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Kobe Bryant : A China legacy

Kobe Bryant’s untimely death has rocked the entire world since news broke on 26th of February that the helicopter he’d been travelling in, alongside daughter Gianna and seven others crashed in Calabasas.

While friends and fans of the star leave tributes across his native USA, tens of millions of fans on social media platform Weibo have also been mourning, indicative of the giant’s popularity throughout the middle kingdom. In memory of Kobe, we take a look at his extensive China legacy. 

The Kobe Bryant China fund 

Kobe Bryant is regarded as a charitable diplomat in China, being officially named a cultural ambassador by the Asia Society under the unspoken blessing of Liu Peng, China’s Minister of Sport.

In 2009, Kobe Bryant launched the Kobe Bryant China Fund, a charity set up to raise money for education, sports and cultural programs for youth in China.  

He kicked things off with a personal donation of 5 million yuan to the charity, which has since raised tens of millions of yuan. The Fund even has the backing of the Chinese government.  

Kobe’s China Fund also works in tandem with his other foundation, the Kobe Bryant Family Foundation, to support Chinese culture in the U.S.  

Together the two foundations offer Chinese language lessons, Chinese cooking courses and martial arts classes to U.S. high school students.

Engaging Chinese fans

In comparison to many other international sports stars, Kobe Bryant was extremely active on Chinese social media, particularly Weibo, posting once every few days since first registering an account back in 2013.

His team had also put together a Taobao store for Kobe Bryant merchandise, ensuring that the brand of Kobe was well and truly localised. 

His work ethic

Many across China held Kobe up as the ultimate hard-working athlete. The quote below is commonly attributed to an interview during which Bryant stresses the importance of rising early and training consistently. Many of the tributes left for the icon make reference to this mentality, the image below being just one of them. 

 Kobe, we salute you! 

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Written by RunakoCelina

Runako Celina is the co-founder of Black Livity China and an avid content creator. Her writings have been featured on CGTN, ChinAfrican magazine and SupChina, amongst others. She holds an MA in International Politics from Peking University and currently lives and works in Beijing. She frequently writes on cultural continuation in Caribbean enclaves across the region, as well as exploratory research pieces on the African presence in South East Asia. Her latest research project ‘The Batek’, details Batek (Afro-descendant, original peoples of Malay Peninsula) history and cultural practices having spent two weeks living with two separate Batek communities belonging to this ethnic group. Her interest in the unification of the entire African and African diasporic community has since led her to branch into the world of social enterprise and cultural exchange, intent on bridging the gap between these communities. A language enthusiast, Runako is fond of the study and promotion of African languages having studied Swahili and Yoruba during her graduate studies.

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