AP Photo/Matt Slocum

There aren’t too many things that make Kobe Bryant nervous. He’s had the basketball in his hands on basketball’s biggest stages like in the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal game where he literally took over the clutch including a historic, ice cold three pointer despite being fouled for a four point play. His immediate finger-over-the-mouth gesture afterward was symbolic of his intensive and focused play in crunch-time situations. Yet it was a small crowd of 4,000 at his old high school last Thursday evening that made Kobe Bryant admit, “I’m actually nervous.”

Donating $411,000 to help build exhibits within the gym, Kobe Bryant will have the old gym at Lower Merion High School now named in his honor. The night was full of smiles and emotion for Kobe; who wants to help the “next generation of students” reach their goals like Bryant before them. A sense of homecoming was embraced by Kobe who had this to say about the gym via ESPN:

“It’s cool for me,” Bryant said. “That’s obviously where playing in the NBA kind of became a realistic goal. I put a lot of work in, a lot of hours in that gym, with a lot of people that support me and still support me to this day. It will be cool to go back there.”

Throughout the evening, many influential people spoke about Kobe including his current teammate Derek Fisher and old high school coach, Gregg Downer, and English teacher Jeanne Mastriano. Downer even shared a fun fact about Kobe as pointed out by the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Bryant still wears his Lower Merion shorts under his Lakers shorts.”

As for Bryant, returning to his hometown will always be sentimental as he explains, “This is where I came from. This is where I grew up,” Bryant said. “I didn’t go to college. This is my university. This is where my memories lie.

Kobe Bryant led the Aces to the 1996 state championship prior to announcing his entrance into the NBA draft just months later. With a legacy that continues to grow every moment, it’s a great honor for Kobe who embraces his very own beginnings while striving to aid others in their future.

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/kb24chitown/ Alex

    Congrats that’s special …. Keep up the intensity beat the heat on Christmas!!

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/marianathania/ mariabryant

    wow ! congratulation Kobe ! I love you :* (:

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/kb24chitown/ Alex

    I hate when you guys lose to scrubs… >:0

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/elizabeth/ Elizabeth Hartman

    You must be very proud to have your high school gym in your honor! You deserve the best!

  • thenextlegend24

    nice one kobe, you’re my biggest inspiration and PLEASE BEAT THE HEAT ON CHRISTMAS, it just would make my day

    peace and love!!

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/blackmamba5x/ Mounir

    Kobe it’s just another huge accomplishment to your long list of greatness

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/lakers8/ Wellsg

    Congrats Kob!

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/24kobelakersgurl/ Madina Alemzay

    Congrats KOBE!!! You deserve it 100% of course.<3(:

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/martinamalka/ martinamalka

    That was so beautiful to read. You are a really great role model. I know that was a growing experience for you. Going home always makes us see how far we’ve come. Blessings on your Journey Kobe, you are a great basketball player. You will forever be remembered as that! Mazel Tov!

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/megs/ telmae

    ..you deserve dit Kobe

  • http://kobebryant.com/members/jagpreet/ jagpreet singh

    great job kobe hope u win another title this year!!!!