Kobe Bryant killed in helicopter crash: How ex-Los Angeles Laker reinvented himself after NBA




Kobe Bryant killed in helicopter crash: How ex-Los Angeles Laker reinvented himself after NBA
Kobe Bryant killed in helicopter crash: How ex-Los Angeles Laker reinvented himself after NBA  

From long before he retired from the NBA, Kobe Bryant had his sights set on extending his superstardom into the business and entertainment world.

While still playing, the Los Angeles Laker co-founded a private investment fund to back tech, media and data companies. But he didn't reveal his involvement until years later.

His business ventures quickly grew into an economic force, fueled by his heralded work ethic, a series of savvy investments and creative flair.

Bryant died Sunday in helicopter crash near Malibu that killed five people.

After winning the Oscar in 2018 for a short film inspired by a poem he wrote when he retired from basketball, Bryant was ebullient and reflective.

"It's a hard thing for athletes to start over," Bryant said after the Oscars. "You have to begin again."

Kobe Bryant killed: Former NBA superstar dies in helicopter crash in Calabasas, California

Kobe Bryant's business ventures: Ex-NBA superstar scored points as an investor by preaching patience

His reinvention was swift. By September 2019, his investment firm, Bryant Stibel & Co., had more than $2 billion in capital under management.

"I understand the importance of building value and being smart with your finances," Bryant told USA TODAY in September.

He founded Granity Studios, a multimedia company that has produced an ESPN+ series analyzing the performances of professional athletes ("Detail") and a podcast teaching life lessons through melodies and sports ("The Punies"). He also famously produced produce "Dear Basketball," which won the Academy Award for best animated short film in 2018.

Bryant's fund's investments included companies like BodyArmor, a sports drink brand that he backed in 2014, according to a 2017 ABC report. At one point, Bryant wrote and co-directed four of the brand's ads. That $6 million investment mushroomed into a $200 million score after Coca-Cola acquired BodyArmor in 2018, according to a 2018 Undefeated story.

Bryant approached his investing career with the same relentless work ethic and dedication that defined his basketball career.

For example, he would respond to text messages from BodyArmor founder Mike Repole at 3 a.m., according to ABC.

"We are obsessive," Bryant told the network. "We wouldn't want to be doing anything other than what we are doing. That's where obsession comes in - when you care about something 24 hours a day."

Bryant would constantly consult with some of the biggest names in business, from Oprah to Apple designer Jony Ive, according to the same report.

As of September, USA TODAY reported, he had backed 28 companies as varied as Epic Games, which launched the "Fortnite" craze, and Cholula, which makes hot sauce. Some were well-known tech names like Dell and Alibaba, while others were widely known brands like LegalZoom.

Having Bryant as an investor "has opened doors across the board," LegalZoom co-founder Brian Lee told USA TODAY in September.

What attracted Bryant to business was similar to what made him great on the court.

"It's finding that winning company as an investor," Bryant said, "because I always expected to hit a game-winning shot growing up."

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash: How he remade himself post-NBA

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