He was 41 at the time of his death.
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement Sunday. “… He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share with future generations of players…”
Bryant created the venture capital firm Bryant Stibel in 2013 with Web.com founder Jeff Stibel. The firm has over $2 billion in assets and has invested in dozens of companies, including Dell, Alibaba, Fortnite creator Epic Games, payment company Klarna and household products outfit The Honest Company.
“You’ve got to have strong entrepreneurs, that’s really the key for us is looking at the people,” Bryant said in a CNBC interview in September. “Yes, it’s important to see those returns, right? But it’s also important to have great opportunity, great relationships with our investors, great opportunities with our entrepreneurs to help them grow and put them in situations where they can be successful.”
Bryant also made millions when he invested in sports drink Body Armor, which sold a stake to Coca-Cola.
“When Kobe puts his stamp of approval on something and really gets behind you as a partner, the world of sports and everyone across the spectrum of the sports industry takes note, and you’re suddenly validated in a way that most startups just don’t experience until much further on,” said Brian Lee and Matthias Metternich, founders of skincare brand Art of Sport, in a statement before Bryant’s death.
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps said Bryant was an inspiration for that second stage after an athletic career.
“I think Kobe’s somebody who’s been super fun to kind of pick his brain about some things,” Phelps told The Wall Street Journal in August. “We’ve had the privilege and the opportunity in our sports to be successful and reach the pinnacle, and we know what it takes to get to that top level. So now, it’s always the challenge for the athletes to find that drive outside of the sport.”