May 12, 2021
If you've ever wanted to own Kobe Bryant's Lower Merion High School jersey, now is your chance. But it's going to cost you a pretty penny to make it happen.
The Black Mamba's authentic, game-worn home white jersey from his playing days on the Main Line is up for auction with a starting bid of $50,000. The jersey is being auctioned off by Lelands, a New Jersey-based auction house.
The jersey was first given to one of Bryant's former agents, who then passed it down to a former NBA player. The uniform was then gifted to the consignor. The jersey comes with a note from the consignor explaining how he came to own the uniform.
Lower Merion is inscribed around Bryant's No. 33 on the front of the jersey, both written in maroon lettering. The No. 33 is written in maroon lettering on the back of the jersey too.
The jersey has been given an A10 certification by MEARS, a memorabilia evaluation company that uses a grading scale of 1-10 when evaluating authentic uniforms. Points are awarded for characteristics such as lettering, numbering, size and materials. Points are subtracted for condition and restoration issues, as well as other inconsistencies with the jersey.
An A10 certification is described as the following on the company's website:
"Manufactured characteristics of the jersey have been compared to known authentic examples and are consistent with respect tagging, lettering, numbering, size, patches and/or memorial bands, materials, style, buttons, zipper, etc. Each piece is also evaluated on the degree of evident use and wear, which must be consistent with that of the player, sport, position, field of play and duration of use. No negative traits can be found to receive this grade. The jersey must be complete, unaltered, all original and show optimal wear while remaining in the same condition as last worn by the player."
The auction for Bryant's jersey started this past Sunday and will close June 4. Bids for the jersey can be submitted online.
Bryant was born in Philly, but grew up overseas as his father continued his own professional basketball career in Italy.
The future Basketball Hall of Famer then moved back home and starred at Lower Merion High School from 1992-1996. Bryant helped lead Lower Merion to the PIAA boys basketball state championship in his senior season. He was also named a McDonald's All-American, the Naismith High School Player of the Year and Gatorade Men's National Basketball Player of the Year in 1996.
Bryant finished his high school career with 2,883 points and had his No. 33 jersey retired by Lower Merion.
The five-time NBA champion, however, did not wear No. 33 at the professional level. The same number had been previously worn by Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and was retired by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant famously wore No. 8 and No. 24 during his 20-year NBA career, both of which have since been retired by the Lakers.
The Black Mamba remained connected to his alma mater after his high school career ended. Bryant was a benefactor to the school, and Lower Merion's gym is named the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium.
Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2020. Kobe Bryant was 41 and Gianna Bryant was 13. The other victims in the crash were teammates on Gianna Bryant's basketball team, their parents and the helicopter pilot.
After Bryant's death, a memorial was put together by fans outside Lower Merion High School to pay tribute to him. Before their first game after Bryant's death, the school held a 33-second moment of silence to honor him.
Other Philly sports items up for bid during the auction include a signed game-worn Mike Quick Eagles jersey from his rookie season in 1982, a game-worn Bobby Clarke Flyers jersey from around 1976 and a collection of seven game-worn Phillies uniforms spanning the 1970s through the 1990s. The package includes a game-worn Darren Daulton home jersey from 1987 and a signed authentic Mike Lieberthal home jersey from the 1990s.