Kobe Bryant: Great White Shark With Surprising Connection to Bryant Named After Lakers Legend

Kobe Bryant once wrote an article for the Players' Tribune, revealing that he had been studying sharks in order to prepare for an upcoming matchup with Allen Iverson. The late NBA icon was fascinated with the creatures and had gone out in a shark cage for an up-close look. Now his memory is being honored by having a great white named after him.

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According to Michael Domeier of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, the 12-foot-long shark was spotted in the Pacific Ocean near Guadalupe Island, Mexico. This is an area where the creatures frequently gather, and this young adult shark is new.

Domeier explained to CNN that each shark is photographed and documented in a photo-ID database maintained by the Marine Conservation Science Institute (MCSI). The photographs show the unique scars, coloring, and features of each shark and make it far easier to identify them.

The diver that is able to fully photograph each new shark is given the honor of naming it. Although many of these creatures are simply known by numbers.

Martin Graf was the diver who photographed this new shark, which just happened to be the 24th. This is the number worn by Bryant during the latter half of his career. Graf owns a company called Shark Diver and had previously taken Bryant out in a shark cage in 2013 to study two great whites.

The late NBA icon reportedly spent a chunk of the day hanging out on the boat or in the cages, per Cindy Michaels, the director of communications for Shark Diver. Bryant also reportedly told Graf that he had become interested in sharks during his childhood in Italy.

While Bryant did wear the traditional wetsuits and weights during his trip in the shark cage, he did have to make one adjustment. There were no booties available that would fit his size-14 foot. He instead had to wear his sneakers into the water while studying the sharks.

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"Our hearts go out to everyone involved and the families and friends and we just, we want to make it special for them and for the shark community and those who are his fellow divers," Michaels said after the new shark's name had been revealed. "I think it's just kind of a cool thing to do for him."

(Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)