Kobe Bryant is one of the most famous players to ever make the jump straight from high school to the NBA. That’s because he was already such a phenomenal talent by the time he was a teenager. During his career at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, the young Mamba racked up all sorts of accolades, both team-wise and individually, including a state championship, Naismith High School Player of the Year honors, the Gatorade Player of the Year award, and was named to the McDonald’s All-American team.
Much of the memorabilia from that time has been on display at what’s lovingly called the “Kobe Shrine” in the Lower Merion gymnasium, but according to a new report, vandals broke in and raided the display case of several items over the weekend, including a replica high school jersey, the aforementioned state championship trophy, and multiple pairs of autographed signature Nike shoes.
“We’re bummed,” said Doug Young, Lower Merion’s Director of Community Relations, who said couldn’t [sic] understand why someone would steal items that don’t have a significant monetary value.
“It’s a replica jersey, it’s not even the jersey he wore in high school,” said Young, a high school teammate of Bryant. “I’m not sure what someone would do with a state championship trophy. For us, the items are important because they represent some really wonderful memories.”
“Material items can be replaced and we will make every effort to restore and even enhance the contents of the case with the help of alumni and friends,” principal Sean Hughes and athletics director Don Walsh said in the joint email to parents. “And even if we cannot replace all the items, the moments that produced them are still very much alive in our memories and honored through the ongoing traditions of Aces Nation.”
Anyone who’s played high school sports understands the sentimental value attached to such items, so here’s to hoping the school is able to recover at least some of them.