“Kobe Bean Bryant” by Rick Chapman, 2007. Selenium-toned gelatin silver print. National Portrait Gallery,
Smithsonian Institution; gift of the artist and ESPN. ©2007 Rick Chapman
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery presents a portrait of the late Kobe Bryant (1978 – 2020), marking the death of the famed American athlete. The 2007 gelatin silver print photograph by Rick Chapman will be on view on the museum’s first floor until further notice.
Born in Philadelphia, Kobe Bryant was the son of a well-traveled basketball player, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant. He spent some of his youth in Italy, where his father played professionally for a European league, before moving back to Philadelphia, where he was drafted out of high school in 1996. Bryant spent nearly his entire career as a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. He won five NBA championships and scored 33,643 points during his career. Bryant was the league MVP in the 2007–2008 season and an 18-time All Star. While his skills on the court were undeniable, Bryant was extremely competitive and known for his temper. And, in 2003, his image was tarnished when he was charged with sexual assault, causing him to lose endorsement deals. He and the accuser reached a settlement in 2004.
After retiring from basketball in 2016, Bryant founded Granity Studios. Dear Basketball, which he wrote and narrated, won the Academy Award for best animated short film in 2018.
On Jan. 26, 2020, a helicopter crash resulted in the untimely death of Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other passengers. Bryant leaves behind his wife of almost 19 years, Vanessa, and three other children.
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.
The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at npg.si.edu, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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