Long before he was one of the team's most famous players, Kobe Bryant was just another Los Angeles Lakers fan, sharing his love for the squad in a friend's 8th grade yearbook that is now up for auction.
Available from Iconic Auctions, the yearbook for Bala Cynwyd Middle School near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, features an inscription from a young Bryant that reads, "In a few years you will probably be dunking on me. NOT!! - How bout those Lakers, Your friend, Kobe Bryant #24."
The site claims that "In addition to being Bryant's earliest (and only) known handwritten reference to the Lakers, this yearbook by our research also serves as possibly the earliest known version of his signature and use of the number 24."
The minimum bid on the yearbook was set at $2,500 and the current bid is $4,028. As of Tuesday morning, there are four days and around 11 hours left in the auction.
The yearbook is from 1992, when a 13-year-old Bryant arrived back in the United States from Italy in the middle of the school year. He played for Bala Cynwyd's basketball team and appears in the team's photo in the yearbook, though he does not have a standard school photo due to his late arrival. He went on to attend Lower Merion High School and entered the NBA after graduating.
Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets at age 18 as the 13th overall pick but was quickly traded to Los Angeles in an arranged swap for Vlade Divac. Bryant went on to become a Lakers legend, winning five NBA championships with the team. He spent all of his 20 seasons in the NBA with the Lakers, and the Staples Center in Los Angeles is often referred to as "the house that Kobe built."
Former Laker Magic Johnson spoke to reporters ahead of the Lakers' game against the Boston Celtics on Sunday and recalled the first time he heard about Bryant.
"I get a phone call from Jerry [West] and Michael [Cooper] that said, hey, this 18-year-old kid is the real deal," Johnson said, via Sports Illustrated. "Jerry said this is the greatest workout we've ever seen from anybody, just think about the Lakers history, and so I said, okay, wow."0comments
West recently shared on TNT that he had to stop the workout because Bryant was embarrassing Cooper, and that was the moment West, who was the Lakers' general manager at the time, knew Bryant had to be a part of the team.
Photo Credit: Getty / Anadolu Agency