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One year since Kobe Bryant’s death: NBA legend’s life in photos

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It’s been a year since Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Southern California.

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They were on their way to a basketball tournament on a Sunday morning. Bryant, Gigi -- that’s what most called his daughter -- and everyone else aboard the helicopter were killed instantly in the crash, officials said.


The Associated Press has moved thousands of photos of Bryant, who won five championships in his 20 NBA seasons, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a Grammy winner. He was a best-selling author of children’s books. He will soon be officially enshrined as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Here is Bryant’s NBA life, depicted in photo form:

1996: Bryant was a 17-year-old kid when he entered the NBA and had a childlike grin when the Lakers introduced him as the newest member of their franchise. He never played for another.

At left, in a Jan. 25, 2013, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant goes up for a dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, in Los Angeles. At right, in a July 12, 1996, file photo, Kobe Bryant, 17, jokes with the media as he holds his Los Angeles Lakers jersey during a news conference in Inglewood, California. (AP)
At left, in a Jan. 25, 2013, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant goes up for a dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, in Los Angeles. At right, in a July 12, 1996, file photo, Kobe Bryant, 17, jokes with the media as he holds his Los Angeles Lakers jersey during a news conference in Inglewood, California. (AP)


1997: Bryant faced a steep learning curve as a rookie, averaging 7.6 points per game. A year later, he was an All-Star and on his meteoric rise to stardom.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers goes in for a layup against the Utah Jazz during the second half of their playoff game Thursday, May 8, 1997. (AP)
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers goes in for a layup against the Utah Jazz during the second half of their playoff game Thursday, May 8, 1997. (AP)


1998: In his first All-Star Game, Bryant showed he belonged among the game’s best, scoring 18 points opposed Michael Jordan.

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan (23) reaches to defend against Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant (8) during the second quarter action, Feb. 1, 1998. (AP)
Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan (23) reaches to defend against Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant (8) during the second quarter action, Feb. 1, 1998. (AP)


1999: Bryant’s relationship with Shaquille O’Neal was often complex, but they would form one of the top duos in NBA history.

In this Feb. 5, 1999, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal (34) puts his arms around teammates, Elden Campbell (41) and Kobe Bryant (8) as Eddie Jones (6) and Derek Harper . (AP)
In this Feb. 5, 1999, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal (34) puts his arms around teammates, Elden Campbell (41) and Kobe Bryant (8) as Eddie Jones (6) and Derek Harper . (AP)


2000: Bryant rode a double-decker bus to Staples Center when the Lakers won their first of the five championships with him in purple and gold.

Kobe Bryant gestures to the crowd from atop a doubledecker bus as the Lakers victory parade arrives at Staples Center in Los Angeles, June 21, 2000. (AP)
Kobe Bryant gestures to the crowd from atop a doubledecker bus as the Lakers victory parade arrives at Staples Center in Los Angeles, June 21, 2000. (AP)


2001: This was always a certainty: When fans came to watch Kobe Bryant, they would get a show.

Kobe Bryant jumps over a row of fans after saving the ball from going out of bounds in the second half of the Lakers 107-101 win over the Houston Rockets Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001. (AP)
Kobe Bryant jumps over a row of fans after saving the ball from going out of bounds in the second half of the Lakers 107-101 win over the Houston Rockets Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001. (AP)


2002: Bryant’s confidence was soaring. The Lakers rolled through the playoffs, winning a third consecutive NBA title.

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant, left, holding the championship trophy, celebrates with teammates Rick Fox, Lindsey Hunter, second from right, and Shaquille O'Neal, right, holding the MVP trophy, after winning Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Wednesday, June 12, 2002, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP)
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant, left, holding the championship trophy, celebrates with teammates Rick Fox, Lindsey Hunter, second from right, and Shaquille O'Neal, right, holding the MVP trophy, after winning Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Wednesday, June 12, 2002, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP)


2003: Bryant and O’Neal were often portrayed as rivals, and they bickered often. Clearly, however, they had moments that both enjoyed.

Kobe Bryant, left, and Shaquille O'Neal embrace after O'Neal set Bryant up for a score during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2003. (AP)
Kobe Bryant, left, and Shaquille O'Neal embrace after O'Neal set Bryant up for a score during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2003. (AP)


2004: Bryant’s legacy was marred by the allegation that he raped a 19-year-old Colorado hotel worker. A civil suit was eventually brought, Bryant issued an apology through his attorney and the case was later dropped when the accuser refused to testify.

Kobe Bryant leaves court at the Justice Center Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004 in Eagle ,Colo. after a day of jury selection in his upcoming sexual assault trial. (AP)
Kobe Bryant leaves court at the Justice Center Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2004 in Eagle ,Colo. after a day of jury selection in his upcoming sexual assault trial. (AP)


2005: Bryant had the best offensive season of his career in 2005-06, leading the NBA by averaging 35.4 points per game.

Kobe Bryant puts up a shot around Memphis Grizzlies' Pau Gasol, of Spain, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005. (AP)
Kobe Bryant puts up a shot around Memphis Grizzlies' Pau Gasol, of Spain, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005. (AP)


2006: Games against the Boston Celtics always brought out the best in Bryant; the Celtics and Lakers have been rivals for decades.

Kobe Bryant, top, goes up for a shot between the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce, left, and Al Jefferson during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Feb. 23, 2006. (AP)
Kobe Bryant, top, goes up for a shot between the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce, left, and Al Jefferson during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Feb. 23, 2006. (AP)


2007: Bryant was always an intense competitor. Here, celebrating a basket in a playoff game against Phoenix, he showed how much more the postseason meant.

Kobe Bryant, center, is guarded by Phoenix Suns' Shawn Marion, left, and Boris Diaw during the first half of their Western Conference playoff basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 29, 2007. (AP)
Kobe Bryant, center, is guarded by Phoenix Suns' Shawn Marion, left, and Boris Diaw during the first half of their Western Conference playoff basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 29, 2007. (AP)


2008: Bryant dove into the stands in an effort to save a loose ball in Dallas. No play was insignificant to him.

Kobe Bryant lands amongst fans after chasing down a loose ball in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. (AP)
Kobe Bryant lands amongst fans after chasing down a loose ball in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Friday, Jan. 25, 2008. (AP)


2009: Bryant led the Lakers to the fourth championship of his career, the first since he and O’Neal won three straight in the early 2000s.

Kobe Bryant celebrates while on stage during the Lakers' NBA championship victory rally at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 17, 2009. (AP)
Kobe Bryant celebrates while on stage during the Lakers' NBA championship victory rally at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 17, 2009. (AP)


2010: The fifth and final championship of Bryant’s NBA career. As the final seconds of those NBA Finals ticked away, Bryant leaped onto the scorer’s table and, as confetti fell and some stuck to his soaked uniform, he held five fingers high. The meaning was clear.

Kobe Bryant goes up for a shot during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday, Dec. 31, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP)
Kobe Bryant goes up for a shot during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday, Dec. 31, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP)


2011: Bryant was adored globally, including South Korea, where he threw a basketball clinic for children during a tour of five Asian cities.

Kobe Bryant embraces South Korean students in his basketball clinic for youth in Seoul, South Korea. (AP)
Kobe Bryant embraces South Korean students in his basketball clinic for youth in Seoul, South Korea. (AP)


2012: Bryant played in the Olympics twice for USA Basketball. He left both times with a gold medal.

Members of the United States basketball team pose with their gold medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. From left are Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. (AP)
Members of the United States basketball team pose with their gold medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. From left are Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. (AP)


2013: Whenever Bryant visited China, it wasn’t uncommon for thousands of fans to show up just to get a glimpse of someone who was as revered as any player there — including Chinese star Yao Ming.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, top center, former NBA Houston Rockets basketball player Yao Ming, top left, pose with children during the NBA Cares Special Olympics Basketball Clinic in China. (AP)
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, top center, former NBA Houston Rockets basketball player Yao Ming, top left, pose with children during the NBA Cares Special Olympics Basketball Clinic in China. (AP)


2014: Bryant was among the players who wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts in 2014 to protest the death of Eric Garner, a Black man killed by police in New York.

Kobe Bryant, center, and his teammates warm up before an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP)
Kobe Bryant, center, and his teammates warm up before an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP)


2015: Bryant averaged 22.3 points in his next-to-last season in the NBA, the 15th time in his 20 seasons that he would average at least 20 points.

Kobe Bryant acknowledges the crowd as he leaves the court after their 112-104 win over the Boston Celtics in his final regular season NBA basketball game in Boston Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. (AP)
Kobe Bryant acknowledges the crowd as he leaves the court after their 112-104 win over the Boston Celtics in his final regular season NBA basketball game in Boston Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. (AP)


2016: Wherever Bryant went in his final season, opposing fans cheered and let him know how much he would be missed.

Kobe Bryant walks off the court after finishing his last NBA basketball game before retirement, against the Utah Jazz, on April 13, 2016. (AP)
Kobe Bryant walks off the court after finishing his last NBA basketball game before retirement, against the Utah Jazz, on April 13, 2016. (AP)