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!
Runako Celina is the co-founder of Black Livity China. She holds an MA in International Politics and African Studies from Peking University. She spent two years working for China's largest Digital TV platform broadcasting in African countries and currently lives and works in Beijing. During her time at Peking University, she sat on the committee for the Peking University Africa Think Tank.