Bryant, Kobe (kōˈbē brĪˈənt) [key], 1978–, American basketball player, b. Philadelphia. The son of former professional basketball player Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, he was a high school star, turned pro at 17, and debuted with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association in 1996. A Lakers superstar in the 2000s, the agile and aggressive 6-ft 6-in. (198-cm) guard has been a consistent high scorer from the court and free-throw line. In a game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 Bryant scored 81 points, second only to Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. In 2009 and 2010, having already played on three Lakers championship teams (2000–2002), he led the team to two more NBA championships and was named finals MVP both years. Bryant also was a member of the 2008 and 2012 gold-medal U.S. Olympic men's basketball teams. His career has been marred by a 2003 sexual assault charge (which, though dropped, led to an out-of-court settlement) and public squabbles at times with former teammate Shaquille O'Neal and Coach Phil Jackson.
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