Like the Holiday Inn ads where hotel guests use a good night’s sleep to address problems outside their purview, when Kobe Bryant turned 41 he rode the wave of confidence gained from his legendary basketball career to tackle new challenges.
KOBE PLAYS BEETHOVEN
First up, he learned how to play a classical piano piece by ear. Bryant looped Beethoven’s famed “Moonlight Sonata” on his iPhone while he picked out the melody note-by-note on a keyboard.
Bryant performed the sonata for his wife Vanessa to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. If not for his untimely demise, no one would have been surprised if Bryant had gone on to master Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s notoriously difficult “Flight of the Bumblebee.”
KOBE BRYANT THE RAPPER
Bryant was no newcomer to the world of music. In high school he was part of a rap crew known as CHEIZAW (Canon Homo Sapiens Eclectic Iconic Zaibatsu Abstract Words). Later, as a young star for the Los Angeles Lakers, he spent a summer back east working on his rap skills at Manhattan’s Hit Factory. Signed by Sony, Bryant performed competently when given the opportunity to record a verse on a remix of Brian McKnight’s “Hold Me.”
In January of 2000, Sony Entertainment released the Bryant’s rap single “K.O.B.E.” featuring a hook sung by supermodel Tyra Banks. Unfortunately (or perhaps, mercifully, judging by the public’s reaction to the song), Bryant’s singing career was short lived. Interest in the hoopster/rapper novelty had already begun to wane after earlier offerings from Lakers’ teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
TAYLOR SWIFT FAN
Before his Beethoven performance, Bryant’s previous notable news in the realm of music — aside from Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing the national anthem prior to the Black Mamba’s final game — was presenting Taylor Swift with her own banner at Staples Center.
In 1989, Bryant surprised Swift at one of her world tour concerts. He appeared on stage to a deafening roar from the crowd and then directed Swift’s attention toward the rafters.
KOBE BRYANT MULTIMEDIA MOGUL
In Bryant’s final months he poured his passion into Granity Studios, an award winning multimedia original content company that was focused on creating new ways to tell stories around sports.