After having spent a part of his childhood in Italy, Kobe Bryant attended Lower Merion High School. There he proved to be a star player on the courts, and earned enough honors and triumphs to make up for his lack of college basketball experience and to make the big jump to the NBA and the Lakers.
As a senior Kobe was voted USA Today and Parade Magazine's National High School Player of the Year and he led his team to Class AAAA state title with a 31-3 record. Kobe also broke records along the way. With an average of 30.8 points, 12 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 4.0 steals, 3.8 blocked shots per game, and a total of 2,883 points, Bryant became the leading scorer in Southeastern Pennsylvania history -- beating out previous records set by NBA great Wilt Chamberlain and Carlin Warley.
A four-year starter, Bryant was recognized for his innate basketball skills by being named Naismith Player of the Year, Gatorade Circle of Champions High School Player of the Year, and became a McDonald's All-America Team member.
He went straight from high school to professional basketball. The Lakers wanted Bryant but were drafting late, so they swung a deal with the Charlotte Hornets whereby Charlotte selected him with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft (June 26,1996), and then traded the signing rights for Kobe to the Los Angeles Lakers for seven-year veteran center Vlade Divac. This way Kobe became the only Los Angeles player to have bypassed college.
As the youngest NBA player to ever debut in the league (at 18 years, 2 months and 11 days old), Bryant set a new record at the 1997 Rookie Game, with 31 points and 8 rebounds. Bryant also slam-dunked his way during the 1997 NBA All-Star Weekend, by winning the Slam Dunk Championship.
During the 1998 All-Star Game, Bryant was voted a starter, making him another history-making player, as the youngest All-Star player in the NBA.