I Am Kobe

I Am Kobe

Webby Award winner and People's Voice winner for Best Sports podcast! How did Kobe Bryant craft the passion, the determination, and the strength to become a legend? This remarkable series reveals intimate, never-before-heard tapes of Kobe as a teenager, exploring his thoughts, his dreams, and his goals. Philadelphia journalist Mike Sielski tells the story of Kobe Bryant’s early years, weaving together these tapes and speaking with Kobe's high school coaches, his friends, his family, and the figures who knew him in his youth, to paint an enthralling documentary portrait of the making of an icon. Before he was an outsized global basketball celebrity for the Los Angeles Lakers, a 5-time NBA champion, an 18-time All-Star, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, a children’s-book author, a husband, a father, and sometimes a lightning rod for controversy, Kobe Bryant was a kid from Philadelphia. Cover photo © Eileen Blass – USA TODAY NETWORK


November 3, 2021 1 min

What if we could go back in time, before he became the icon, and ask him: how did you become Kobe Bryant? “I Am Kobe” tells the story of Kobe Bryant’s early life through his coaches, his family, his friends. With never-before-heard intimate tapes of Kobe himself. His thoughts, his dreams, his goals from his teenage years, revealed for the first time. Listen to “I Am Kobe” for free on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, and all the...

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Kobe Bryant: basketball superstar for the Los Angeles Lakers, five-time NBA champion, 18-time All-Star, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, children’s-book author, husband, father, sometimes a lightning rod for controversy and conflict, always a competitor beyond compare, a global icon. The tapes journalist Mike Sielski plays in this podcast series aren’t from the later years of Kobe's Lakers career when he was already a celebrity. Th...

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November 16, 2021 52 mins

If you want to get to the heart of the Kobe Bryant story, you have to start with the Joe Bryant story, and that means you have to start with Philadelphia. One of the pieces of Kobe’s story that tends to get glossed over is that his dad also played in the NBA. Joe Bryant spent eight years in the league. But throwing out that fact and then moving on doesn’t capture the full picture of Joe’s career. Because long before Kobe Bryant was...

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November 23, 2021 34 mins

Kobe Bryant wasn’t quite flashing The Mamba Mentality yet. He was 13 years old and he was jumping into the middle of the school year at Bala Cynwyd Middle School. Then after a few more months, boom, he was heading to Lower Merion, a public high school in the suburbs just outside Philadelphia, a school where about 10 percent of the students were Black.

Pre-order Mike Sielski's related book: “The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit ...

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November 30, 2021 39 mins

High school basketball coach Gregg Downer created a staff of assistants for the purpose of coaching Kobe Bryant. Downer knew what he had in Kobe, and he knew what kind of attention Kobe would draw from opponents, from the media, from everywhere. So he did a really smart, really innovative thing: He brought on four assistants, and each coach would have his own specialized role.

Pre-order Mike Sielski's related book: “The Rise: Ko...

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December 7, 2021 37 mins

When Kobe Bryant was making his rise through the high school basketball ranks, it would have been a miracle for Philadelphia's La Salle University to win an NCAA championship. It didn’t take long for people around La Salle to start thinking that maybe Kobe was going to choose to go to La Salle and become their savior. Kobe played a ton of pickup games in La Salle’s little sweatbox of a practice gym. Kobe could come to La Salle, sta...

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December 14, 2021 41 mins

In 1995 it was common for pro and college players to work out, scrimmage, and play pickup games together during the NBA offseason. Philadelphia 76ers General Manager John Lucas was so impressed with local high school basketball phenom Kobe Bryant that he asked if Kobe wanted to work out with the Sixers. Several of the Sixers’ players would be there, including power forward Sharone Wright and the team’s 7-foot-6-inch center, Shawn B...

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December 21, 2021 52 mins

The most dramatic Kobe Bryant story of his teenage years is the 1995-1996 season of the Lower Merion Aces. It doesn’t have to do with the NBA or Jerry Stackhouse or Kobe’s appreciation for his time in Italy or any of those things. It's about the community in which he grew up, the pressure that a young athlete feels to perform, and the joy that accompanies the achievement of a goal you’ve been chasing for years.

Kobe said, "That'...

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December 28, 2021 45 mins

Kobe Bryant on April 29, 1996, at Lower Merion High School, in a packed gymnasium, made it official: He wasn’t going to Duke. He wasn’t going to La Salle. He wasn’t going to North Carolina or Arizona or Michigan. He wasn’t going to college at all. He was going straight to the NBA. The Charlotte Hornets took him with the 13th pick in the NBA draft, then traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers. With that announcement, Kobe Bryant launch...

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January 4, 2022 46 mins

2001 was the year that Jeremy Treatman’s relationship with Kobe Bryant changed, because Kobe’s relationship with his family changed. 2001 was the year that Kobe married his wife, Vanessa, which led to a falling out between him and his parents, Joe and Pam. There’s been a lot of speculation about why the Bryant family fractured as it did. From what I gathered in talking to people who knew Kobe well back then, the problem came down t...

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January 11, 2022 40 mins

“Kobe Bryant dead? That can’t be." Kobe Bryant’s death affected those people who knew him when he was a kid differently than it affected anyone else. It's not that Kobe’s Lakers teammates or his friends from the NBA weren’t profoundly saddened by his death but the connection between Kobe and people like Jeremy Treatman and his high school coach Gregg Downer and his classmates and teammates from Lower Merion High School was somethin...

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January 18, 2022 43 mins

Let's drill down on the physical and mental attributes that made Kobe Bryant a great basketball player--the granular stuff that basketball junkies love. We examine each stage of Kobe's life and career through the eyes of someone who knew Kobe well at each stage. We have three coaches with ties to Kobe to break everything down. First, you’ll hear from Ashley Howard, who grew up with Kobe and played against him when they were kids. H...

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January 25, 2022 28 mins

At the second anniversary of Kobe Bryant's death, we explore how the change in Kobe late in his career might have come about and what this “new Kobe” was like. We hear from Carmelo Anthony, future Hall of Famer, 9th-leading scorer in NBA history. And we hear from two players on Kobe’s hometown team: the Philadelphia 76ers. Mike Sielski spoke with Seth Curry and Tobias Harris about their vantage points on Kobe: what it was like to g...

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