In January, when the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, six friends, and the pilot happened, the city of Los Angeles and Kobe’s fans around the world were in shock and disbelief. It couldn’t be true. Not Kobe. Not Gianna. Not now, not that way. Even just writing these words brings tears to my eyes. Tributes and murals sprung up all over Los Angeles. Fans flocked to the Staples Center and to online sites to snap up Kobe merchandise. His autobiography, which was published in 2018, became a hot seller. “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” sold more than 300,000 copies since his death. All of this was good enough to make the Lakers legend the sixth highest-paid dead celebrity of 2020. We’d all rather have Kobe, Gianna, and the other seven souls who died that day here with us.
It was the morning of January 26 when we woke up to the news that the helicopter Kobe and his daughter were on had crashed. In the aftermath, fans snapped up all things Kobe to the tune of $20 million. The main source of income for Kobe’s estate is from Nike shoes and apparel. Nike reportedly makes $250 million a year from Kobe Bryant branded items. After the Lakers won the NBA Championship in October (you knew they were going to do it for Kobe!), Bryant’s Lakers jersey was the second best seller for the team. Only LeBron James sold more jerseys than Kobe. LeBron was the NBA Finals’ MVP. Kobe retired from the Lakers and professional basketball in 2016 after 20 years with the team. That’s a pretty impressive feat. Kobe Bryant was an 18 time NBA All-Star, a five-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP.
During his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant earned just over $328 million in salary alone. Some notable contracts include a three-year, $90 million extension signed in 2010. In 2013, he signed a two-year $48.5 million extension. He also earned approximately $350 million from endorsements for a total of $680 million in NBA career earnings. During his final year in the NBA, Kobe earned $25 million. His most notable endorsements include Nike, Sprite, McDonald’s, Turkish Airlines, Lenovo, Hublot, and Panini. Kobe’s popularity in China enabled him to sign lucrative Chinese-specific endorsement deals with companies including Alibaba, Sina.com, and Mercedes Benz. Kobe won gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2018 Kobe won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film “Dear Basketball.”
Bryant left behind his beloved wife Vanessa and his three surviving daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. At his memorial service on February 24th, Vanessa delivered an emotional tribute to her late husband and daughter, saying: “They were funny, happy, silly, and they loved life,” she said. “They were so full of joy and adventure. God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi, and I got Nani, BB, and Koko. We’re still the best team.”
At the time of his death, Kobe Bryant had a net worth of $600 million. Vanessa Bryant and his daughters inherited his estate.