Exclusive: Read an Emotional Open Letter to Kobe Bryant From His Middle School Classmate

Exclusive: Read an Emotional Open Letter to Kobe Bryant From His Middle School Classmate

Junior high pal pens heartfelt message to NBA legend on day of All-Star Game.

Published February 14th

Dear Kobe Bryant,

I won't reveal who I am because this isn't about me or taking away from your moment. It's a former classmate/childhood friend who saw your career happen in its entirety, reflecting and congratulating you on an unbelievable career.

I still remember meeting the skinny, friendly, quiet Kobe at Bala Cynwyd Middle School. The kid who would always opt for the gym at lunch time, so he could shoot hoops. Sometimes alone. Sometimes joined by me and other people, but you were always there.

I'm sure Kobe Bryant shooting hoops at lunch shocks no one, but your incredible career didn't come as a surprise to me. I was in seventh grade when you were in eighth and I still have that yearbook.

And in it, you were voted 'Most Likely to Succeed.' Which is to say...the five championships, the MVP season, the 18 All-Star Games and the back-to-back scoring titles. None of it shocked the kids that knew you first. We always knew.

It's fun to see you enjoying your last season. You've played the villain for so long, people haven't always seen this jovial, happy and caring Kobe. Even through your philanthropic efforts in Los Angeles, there has always been this kind of barrier between the Kobe I knew and the public persona.

Once, during my junior year, I was running around the school for indoor track practice and had to be rushed to the hospital after an asthma attack. You piled up as many of your teammates that would fit into your car and drove to the hospital to make sure I was OK. That's the Kobe that not everyone knows. The person who acted as an ambassador, leader and role model to the school. Even in your play, you brought people together.

Before you, there was this divide between Lower Merion [Pennsylvania] and the rest of the city. But your incredible prowess packed our gyms and created this energy I had never experienced before. We even had games that sold out the Palestra, Villanova, the U of Penn, with people coming from all over just to see you. And who could forget you leading our team to a state championship as a senior in 1996? It was magical.

I think that's why it hurt Philadelphia so much to see you go. You were this victorious symbol for the city and to watch you play in Los Angeles of all places - basically the antithesis of our city - was emotional because it felt like our hero had left us.

It was like watching this incredible force that was a beacon of hope, energy and positivity gone and it left this strange emptiness. Even though it's unspoken, I think that's where the animosity expressed in the 2002 All-Star Game [in Philadelphia] came from.

Only in the past few years have I been able to realize that I've had the full range of emotion. It's so amazing to have to run the gamut as a friend who learned how to do the butterfly from your sister Shaya to a fan admiring your incredible achievements, inspired by how you've given back to our alma mater and enriching the game itself.

Enjoy your day, Kobe. You've earned it. 

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From a friend tuned fan:  A letter to Kobe Bryant. 

 

Dear Kobe Bryant,

 

I won’t reveal who I am because this isn’t about me or taking away from your moment. It’s a former classmate/childhood friend who saw your career in its entirety, reflecting and congratulating you on unbelievable career.

 

I still remember meeting the skinny, friendly, quiet Kobe at Bala Cynwyd Middle School. The kid who would always opt for the gym at lunch time, so he could shoot hoops. Sometimes alone. Sometimes joined by me and other people, but you were always there. 

 

I’m sure Kobe Bryant shooting hoops at lunch shocks no one, but your incredible career didn’t come as a surprise to me. I was in seventh grade while you were in the eighth and I still have that yearbook. And in it, you were voted 'Most Likely to Succeed.' Which is to say, the five championships, the MVP season, the 18 All-Star games, the back-to-back scoring titles; none of it shocked the kids that knew you first. We always knew. 

 

It’s fun to see you enjoying your last season. You’ve played the villain for so long, people haven’t always seen this jovial, happy, caring Kobe. Even through your philanthropic efforts in Los Angeles, there’s always been this kind of barrier between the Kobe I knew and the public persona. 

 

Once during my junior year, I was running around the school for indoor track practice and had to be rushed to the hospital after an asthma attack. You piled up as many of your teammates that would fit into your car and drove to the hospital to make sure I was ok. That’s the Kobe that not everyone knows.  The person who acted as an ambassador, leader and role model to the school. Even in your play, you brought people together. 

 

Before you, there was this divide between Lower Merion and the rest of the city. But your incredible prowess packed out gym’s and created this energy I had never experienced before. We even had games that sold out the Palestra, Villanova, the U of Penn, with people coming form all over just to see you. And who could forget you leading our team to a state championship as a senior in 1996? It was magical.

 

I think that’s why it hurt Philadelphia so much to see you go. You were this victorious symbol for the city and to watch you play in Los Angeles of all places, basically the antithesis of our city, was emotional because it felt like our hero had left us. It was like, watching this incredible force that was a beacon of hope, energy and positivity was gone and left this strange emptiness. Even though it’s unspoken, I think that’s where the animosity expressed in the 2002 All Star Game came from. 

 

Only in the past few years have I been able to realize that I’ve had the full range of emotion. It’s so amazing to have run the gamete as a friend who learned how to do the butterfly from your sister Shaya, to a fan admiring your incredible achievements and inspired by how you’ve given back to our alma mater and the enriched the game itself. 

 

Enjoy your day, Kobe. You’ve earned it. 

 

From a friend tuned fan:  A letter to Kobe Bryant. 

 

Dear Kobe Bryant,

 

I won’t reveal who I am because this isn’t about me or taking away from your moment. It’s a former classmate/childhood friend who saw your career in its entirety, reflecting and congratulating you on unbelievable career.

 

I still remember meeting the skinny, friendly, quiet Kobe at Bala Cynwyd Middle School. The kid who would always opt for the gym at lunch time, so he could shoot hoops. Sometimes alone. Sometimes joined by me and other people, but you were always there. 

 

I’m sure Kobe Bryant shooting hoops at lunch shocks no one, but your incredible career didn’t come as a surprise to me. I was in seventh grade while you were in the eighth and I still have that yearbook. And in it, you were voted 'Most Likely to Succeed.' Which is to say, the five championships, the MVP season, the 18 All-Star games, the back-to-back scoring titles; none of it shocked the kids that knew you first. We always knew. 

 

It’s fun to see you enjoying your last season. You’ve played the villain for so long, people haven’t always seen this jovial, happy, caring Kobe. Even through your philanthropic efforts in Los Angeles, there’s always been this kind of barrier between the Kobe I knew and the public persona. 

 

Once during my junior year, I was running around the school for indoor track practice and had to be rushed to the hospital after an asthma attack. You piled up as many of your teammates that would fit into your car and drove to the hospital to make sure I was ok. That’s the Kobe that not everyone knows.  The person who acted as an ambassador, leader and role model to the school. Even in your play, you brought people together. 

 

Before you, there was this divide between Lower Merion and the rest of the city. But your incredible prowess packed out gym’s and created this energy I had never experienced before. We even had games that sold out the Palestra, Villanova, the U of Penn, with people coming form all over just to see you. And who could forget you leading our team to a state championship as a senior in 1996? It was magical.

 

I think that’s why it hurt Philadelphia so much to see you go. You were this victorious symbol for the city and to watch you play in Los Angeles of all places, basically the antithesis of our city, was emotional because it felt like our hero had left us. It was like, watching this incredible force that was a beacon of hope, energy and positivity was gone and left this strange emptiness. Even though it’s unspoken, I think that’s where the animosity expressed in the 2002 All Star Game came from. 

 

Only in the past few years have I been able to realize that I’ve had the full range of emotion. It’s so amazing to have run the gamete as a friend who learned how to do the butterfly from your sister Shaya, to a fan admiring your incredible achievements and inspired by how you’ve given back to our alma mater and the enriched the game itself. 

 

Enjoy your day, Kobe. You’ve earned it. 

 

From a friend tuned fan:  A letter to Kobe Bryant. 

 

Dear Kobe Bryant,

 

I won’t reveal who I am because this isn’t about me or taking away from your moment. It’s a former classmate/childhood friend who saw your career in its entirety, reflecting and congratulating you on unbelievable career.

 

I still remember meeting the skinny, friendly, quiet Kobe at Bala Cynwyd Middle School. The kid who would always opt for the gym at lunch time, so he could shoot hoops. Sometimes alone. Sometimes joined by me and other people, but you were always there. 

 

I’m sure Kobe Bryant shooting hoops at lunch shocks no one, but your incredible career didn’t come as a surprise to me. I was in seventh grade while you were in the eighth and I still have that yearbook. And in it, you were voted 'Most Likely to Succeed.' Which is to say, the five championships, the MVP season, the 18 All-Star games, the back-to-back scoring titles; none of it shocked the kids that knew you first. We always knew. 

 

It’s fun to see you enjoying your last season. You’ve played the villain for so long, people haven’t always seen this jovial, happy, caring Kobe. Even through your philanthropic efforts in Los Angeles, there’s always been this kind of barrier between the Kobe I knew and the public persona. 

 

Once during my junior year, I was running around the school for indoor track practice and had to be rushed to the hospital after an asthma attack. You piled up as many of your teammates that would fit into your car and drove to the hospital to make sure I was ok. That’s the Kobe that not everyone knows.  The person who acted as an ambassador, leader and role model to the school. Even in your play, you brought people together. 

 

Before you, there was this divide between Lower Merion and the rest of the city. But your incredible prowess packed out gym’s and created this energy I had never experienced before. We even had games that sold out the Palestra, Villanova, the U of Penn, with people coming form all over just to see you. And who could forget you leading our team to a state championship as a senior in 1996? It was magical.

 

I think that’s why it hurt Philadelphia so much to see you go. You were this victorious symbol for the city and to watch you play in Los Angeles of all places, basically the antithesis of our city, was emotional because it felt like our hero had left us. It was like, watching this incredible force that was a beacon of hope, energy and positivity was gone and left this strange emptiness. Even though it’s unspoken, I think that’s where the animosity expressed in the 2002 All Star Game came from. 

 

Only in the past few years have I been able to realize that I’ve had the full range of emotion. It’s so amazing to have run the gamete as a friend who learned how to do the butterfly from your sister Shaya, to a fan admiring your incredible achievements and inspired by how you’ve given back to our alma mater and the enriched the game itself. 

 

Enjoy your day, Kobe. You’ve earned it. 

 

From a friend tuned fan:  A letter to Kobe Bryant. 

 

Dear Kobe Bryant,

 

I won’t reveal who I am because this isn’t about me or taking away from your moment. It’s a former classmate/childhood friend who saw your career in its entirety, reflecting and congratulating you on unbelievable career.

 

I still remember meeting the skinny, friendly, quiet Kobe at Bala Cynwyd Middle School. The kid who would always opt for the gym at lunch time, so he could shoot hoops. Sometimes alone. Sometimes joined by me and other people, but you were always there. 

 

I’m sure Kobe Bryant shooting hoops at lunch shocks no one, but your incredible career didn’t come as a surprise to me. I was in seventh grade while you were in the eighth and I still have that yearbook. And in it, you were voted 'Most Likely to Succeed.' Which is to say, the five championships, the MVP season, the 18 All-Star games, the back-to-back scoring titles; none of it shocked the kids that knew you first. We always knew. 

 

It’s fun to see you enjoying your last season. You’ve played the villain for so long, people haven’t always seen this jovial, happy, caring Kobe. Even through your philanthropic efforts in Los Angeles, there’s always been this kind of barrier between the Kobe I knew and the public persona. 

 

Once during my junior year, I was running around the school for indoor track practice and had to be rushed to the hospital after an asthma attack. You piled up as many of your teammates that would fit into your car and drove to the hospital to make sure I was ok. That’s the Kobe that not everyone knows.  The person who acted as an ambassador, leader and role model to the school. Even in your play, you brought people together. 

 

Before you, there was this divide between Lower Merion and the rest of the city. But your incredible prowess packed out gym’s and created this energy I had never experienced before. We even had games that sold out the Palestra, Villanova, the U of Penn, with people coming form all over just to see you. And who could forget you leading our team to a state championship as a senior in 1996? It was magical.

 

I think that’s why it hurt Philadelphia so much to see you go. You were this victorious symbol for the city and to watch you play in Los Angeles of all places, basically the antithesis of our city, was emotional because it felt like our hero had left us. It was like, watching this incredible force that was a beacon of hope, energy and positivity was gone and left this strange emptiness. Even though it’s unspoken, I think that’s where the animosity expressed in the 2002 All Star Game came from. 

 

Only in the past few years have I been able to realize that I’ve had the full range of emotion. It’s so amazing to have run the gamete as a friend who learned how to do the butterfly from your sister Shaya, to a fan admiring your incredible achievements and inspired by how you’ve given back to our alma mater and the enriched the game itself. 

 

Enjoy your day, Kobe. You’ve earned it. 

 

From a friend tuned fan:  A letter to Kobe Bryant. 

 

Dear Kobe Bryant,

 

I won’t reveal who I am because this isn’t about me or taking away from your moment. It’s a former classmate/childhood friend who saw your career in its entirety, reflecting and congratulating you on unbelievable career.

 

I still remember meeting the skinny, friendly, quiet Kobe at Bala Cynwyd Middle School. The kid who would always opt for the gym at lunch time, so he could shoot hoops. Sometimes alone. Sometimes joined by me and other people, but you were always there. 

 

I’m sure Kobe Bryant shooting hoops at lunch shocks no one, but your incredible career didn’t come as a surprise to me. I was in seventh grade while you were in the eighth and I still have that yearbook. And in it, you were voted 'Most Likely to Succeed.' Which is to say, the five championships, the MVP season, the 18 All-Star games, the back-to-back scoring titles; none of it shocked the kids that knew you first. We always knew. 

 

It’s fun to see you enjoying your last season. You’ve played the villain for so long, people haven’t always seen this jovial, happy, caring Kobe. Even through your philanthropic efforts in Los Angeles, there’s always been this kind of barrier between the Kobe I knew and the public persona. 

 

Once during my junior year, I was running around the school for indoor track practice and had to be rushed to the hospital after an asthma attack. You piled up as many of your teammates that would fit into your car and drove to the hospital to make sure I was ok. That’s the Kobe that not everyone knows.  The person who acted as an ambassador, leader and role model to the school. Even in your play, you brought people together. 

 

Before you, there was this divide between Lower Merion and the rest of the city. But your incredible prowess packed out gym’s and created this energy I had never experienced before. We even had games that sold out the Palestra, Villanova, the U of Penn, with people coming form all over just to see you. And who could forget you leading our team to a state championship as a senior in 1996? It was magical.

 

I think that’s why it hurt Philadelphia so much to see you go. You were this victorious symbol for the city and to watch you play in Los Angeles of all places, basically the antithesis of our city, was emotional because it felt like our hero had left us. It was like, watching this incredible force that was a beacon of hope, energy and positivity was gone and left this strange emptiness. Even though it’s unspoken, I think that’s where the animosity expressed in the 2002 All Star Game came from. 

 

Only in the past few years have I been able to realize that I’ve had the full range of emotion. It’s so amazing to have run the gamete as a friend who learned how to do the butterfly from your sister Shaya, to a fan admiring your incredible achievements and inspired by how you’ve given back to our alma mater and the enriched the game itself. 

 

Enjoy your day, Kobe. You’ve earned it. 

(Photos: Courtesy of author)

Written by Cynwyd Middle School/Lower Merion High School alum as told to BET.com

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