Today marks the three-year anniversary of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s untimely demise in a tragic helicopter crash. We, all the fans, are remembering this superstar in a deep mourning state.
After the 1996 NBA draft, Kobe was traded to the Lakers from the Charlotte Hornets as the 13th overall pick in the first round. Later, he spent 20 years in the City of Angels before retiring as a GOAT in 2016. He previously played for his school, Lower Marion, and drew all eyes to himself.
As a lifelong Lakers loyalist, Kobe had very few versions of jerseys for his fans. That’s why the Lower Marion jersey from childhood became so iconic that it was displayed in the school’s memorial. However, it was stolen in 2017-a year after his retirement.
What actually happened to Kobe Bryant’s Lower Marion jersey?
On a typical day in the fall of October 2018, Liu Zhe, a Harbin resident, browsed through some NBA merchandise online. Bryant’s iconic Lower Marion jersey appeared in front of him, and it appears that fate forced him to buy that jersey right away only for just $2000.
At first, he didn’t know where this item came from, and he was shocked when he found out how much it was worth.
What did Liu Zhe do with that jersey?
After realizing how much this item would be worth to the black mamba, Liu contacted Kobe’s representatives and asked them to know the procedure for returning the Lower Marion jersey. Eventually, Liu was able to return the jersey to the school’s address in Ardmore.
In exchange for his generosity, the Chinese got a good deal: a face-to-face meeting with his idol, Kobe Bryant. In 2019, the 18-time NBA all-star visited China for the FIBA World Cup draw and met with this unique fan. Zhe asked his idol if he could recognize him, and Bryant replied, “Yes, thank you for returning the jersey. You did a great thing.”
Sure enough, Kobe Bryant met up with Liu Zhe – the fan who returned Kobe’s stolen high school jersey to Lower Merion – during his visit to China for the FIBA World Cup draw pic.twitter.com/Fadsj7zZ36
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 17, 2019
The NBA slam dunk contest champion expressed his gratitude by signing a poster and receiving a heartfelt letter from his fan. Just over a year later, he died in a helicopter crash with his daughter onboard. Till this day, Liu Zhe must have preserved his precious gift from the late superstar.
While wearing the Lower Marion jersey, Kobe Bryant received several awards, including the McDonald’s All-American Team Medal, the Naismith Player of the Year Award, the Parade National Player of the Year Award, and the All-American First Team Medal. The jersey is now displayed on the wall of his high school.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 2, 2020
What’s your favorite memory regarding Kobe Bryant’s high school period? You can share your memory in the comment section.