Like any young, highly skilled player, Kobe Bryant was full of bravado in high school. However, he learned the hard way from his father, who was one of the earliest to instill discipline in him.
Kobe refused to run
Unknown to many, former NBA player Keith 'Boss' Closs coached Kobe in high school at the ABCD camp. His team was star-studded with Jermaine O’Neal, Tim Thomas, and Lester Earl. Expectedly, they blew out opponents by as much as 20 to 30 points, and unsurprisingly, his players began to get cocky. The 3-year NBA veteran shared the story on ">The Truth Podcast hosted by Jermaine Barnes and Mikey Domagala.
“After one game, Kobe decides he doesn't want to run. He gets an attitude and walks off the court while the rest of the team is doing sprints. I said, “Hey, Bean what's going on man? You hurt?” He says, “I don't want to run you know we just won man, I'm not running.”
Joe Bryant was in the stands and noticed something was going on. He came down to the court and asked Coach Kloss, “What’s the problem?” Kloss replied, “Bean doesn’t wanna run because he says he doesn’t have to because we won." At that point, Jellybean decided it was time to teach his son a very public lesson
“He (Kobe’s dad) said 'Boy, come here.' Kobe gets up and walks over to him and his dad punches him in the chest. He slides across the floor in front of a gym packed full of people. And he knocks the wind out of Kobe.”
Keith Closs, ">The Truth Podcast
That was the last time young Bryant would disobey his coaches. Kobe ran with tears rolling down his face. It was a harsh punishment from Joe Bryant and in front of a thousand people. But it had to happen, and Kobe learned his lesson the hard way.
Tough love between Kobe and Joe
The relationship between Kobe and his father wasn’t as rosy as people thought. The tension reached its peak when Kobe married Vanessa against his parents’ wishes. Joe and Pam Bryant did not attend the wedding. They wanted their son to focus on his carer, but Kobe, who was 21, fell in love and married the 17-year-old Vanessa. Kobe would get estranged from his family for years. And that meant cutting off the financial support, too.
The already cracked relationship sunk to a new low when Kobe caught Pam and Joe selling his prized memorabilia. It ended in a lawsuit to which Kobe won, and his parents had to apologize.
Over the years, Kobe’s relationship with his parents had its ups and downs. It seemed before that he died, Kobe and Joe were warming up to each other again. It’s unclear if both parties patched things up before the tragic incident that took The Black Mamba’s life, but as shared in the story of Kloss, Joe was instrumental in setting Kobe straight and planted the values of discipline and work ethics. With all the success Kobe reached, Joe Bryant must have been proud.