By Weston Blasi
It has been two years since NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others tragically died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.
Bryant was an NBA Most Valuable Player, five-time NBA champion, and one of the most influential players who has ever picked up a basketball. He was also a savvy businessman.
Bryant made $323,312,307 from the Los Angeles Lakers during his playing career, the fourth-highest earnings in NBA history behind LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Chris Paul.
And Bryant’s financial success dribbled off the court, including lucrative endorsement deals with high-profile brands such as McDonald’s /zigman2/quotes/203508018/composite MCD +1.52% , Nike /zigman2/quotes/203439053/composite NKE +2.70% , and Mercedes-Benz /zigman2/quotes/208157843/delayed DMLRY +1.01% .
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Bryant’s net worth at the time of his death on Jan. 26, 2020 was about $600 million, according to Forbes . Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, who is the executor of the Bryant estate, and his daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri.
One of Bryant’s most successful investments came while he was still playing in the NBA. He put $6 million into sports drink company Body Armor in exchange for a 10% equity stake in the company, according to ESPN . He also became a spokesperson for the brand and participated in recruiting other brand ambassadors.
Coca-Cola /zigman2/quotes/209159848/composite KO +0.59% announced it would buy control of Body Armor in a $5.6 billion deal in November 2021, valuing the sports drink company at $8 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal . The Bryant estate earned around $400 million from the deal, according to the WSJ report.
Another business win for Bryant was starting a $100 million venture capital firm in 2013 with Jeff Stibel , who had been an executive at LegalZoom, Web.com, Inc. and Dun & Bradstreet /zigman2/quotes/219302148/composite DNB +1.81% .
Their new VC firm, Bryant Stibel, mainly invested in “businesses with a focus across technology, media, and data,” according to its website. It diversified investments to include both companies in their early stages of growth, as well as larger, more established companies.
The firm was an early investor in The Players’ Tribune , a media company whose content is created by athletes, along with the body care company Art of Sport. Bryant Stibel has also invested in larger companies such as Dell /zigman2/quotes/203822527/composite DELL +12.86% , Alibaba /zigman2/quotes/201948298/composite BABA -1.13% and “Fortnite” developer Epic Games. As of 2021, Bryant Stibel counted more than $2 billion in assets, according to CNN business .
But in 2021, the Bryant estate decided not to extend his sneaker and apparel deal with Nike. The footwear giant halted all of its upcoming releases of the Kobe Bryant signature shoe line, and won’t make any more in the future.
“I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy,” Vanessa Bryant told ESPN while confirming that talks with Nike had broken down. “We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.”
When Kobe Bryant was selected as one of the 2020 inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Vanessa Bryant and NBA legend Michael Jordan spoke at the enshrinement.
Bryant had indicated that transitioning from a basketball player into a business mogul was a long-term goal that was important to him, especially given his goal-orientated mindset. In fact, he wanted to be remembered as an investor.
“We have to constantly learn,” Bryant said in 2016 . “I mean, that’s why our mantra is value growth. Because to grow, you have to constantly learn. You have to constantly move, constantly improve. That’s the key. That’s what makes life fun, I think.”