‘I Am Kobe’ explores Kobe Bryant’s origin story and path to the NBA in newly found audiotapes
From iHeartRadio and Diversion Podcasts comes “I Am Kobe,” an 11-episode series remembering Kobe Bryant’s legacy from his roots up, exploring the man behind the legend through never-before-heard tapes and interviews. Host and journalist Mike Sielski brings listeners chronologically through Kobe’s life, finding out how his basketball passion was ignited, and unveiling his desire to excel, starting as a kid in Philadelphia.
Kobe played for the Los Angeles Lakers and was a 5-time NBA champ, an 18-time All-Star, and won two Olympic gold medals. While playing for the Lakers, Kobe scored a whopping 33,643 points overall. Besides basketball, Kobe had a few controversies, earned an Oscar for Dear Basketball, was an author, a husband, and a father. In January 2020, the world mourned when he, his daughter, and seven others tragically died in a helicopter crash.
“I Am Kobe” is like unboxing a time capsule. In this series, Sielski chats with Kobe’s family, friends, high school coaches, and folks he knew growing up to share about his life. Listeners will hear tapes from teenage Kobe sharing his aspirations and inner world.
These tapes were lost for over 30 years until they were found in a crawlspace. Some of these recordings were from 1996 and 1997, captured by family friend Jeremy Treatman while Kobe was still in high school. Treatman contacted Sielski with the tapes, and he is interviewed throughout “I Am Kobe” episodes.
We’ll also hear recordings from after his graduation. As a 17- and 18-year-old in the tapes, listeners can hear his charisma, confidence, and competitive attitude – traits beyond athletic ability that were instrumental to his success. Additional tapes dated back to when Kobe started playing with the Lakers. Kobe gave himself the nickname “Black Mamba” and in the first episode, we learn why and what it means.
By the second episode, listeners hear about the Bryant family, starting with the story of his father Joe Bryant who played in the NBA for 8 years. We learn how his dad got into basketball and was inspired by Earl the Pearl Monroe. This episode explains Joe’s arrest, similar to Kobe’s arrest years later, although Joe did not return to the NBA.
Sielski wrote The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality, an account of Kobe’s life leading to 1996’s NBA draft, when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers. The book drops on January 11, 2022. Sielski has written several additional books and reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
To learn more about Kobe Bryant’s story and hear his tapes, check out new, weekly episodes of “I Am Kobe.”