Kobe Bryant once swam with sharks so a marine conservation group named a great white after him
- Kobe Bryant was fascinated by great white sharks.
- Marine Conservation Science Institute has named one of their newest sharks in his honour.
- Kobe Bryant the shark is now #24 in the database of sharks that the institute has spotted off Guadalupe Island.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
The Marine Conservation Science Institute moved a new shark into the #24 spot on their Guadalupe Island White Shark Photo database. Its name is "Kobe Bryant."
"Did you know Kobe was a shark lover and visited Guadalupe Island back in 2016?" the institute said in an Instagram post announcing the new shark. "White Shark Kobe Bryant is a relative newcomer to the island and is estimated to be about 12 feet in length and 10-years old."
The Marine Conservation Science Institute is a nonprofit that researches marine life, including sharks.
As a part of that, the researchers developed a unique system for identifying individual sharks by their colour patterns and have logged more than 300 off of Guadalupe Island. The experts can use the catalog to keep track of the animals for years to come.
Kobe Bryant - the shark - joined that list.
Bryant, the former Los Angeles Lakers #24, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
The basketball star was reportedly fascinated with sharks and in 2013 went diving with them in Southern California, according to shark conservationist Martin Graf, of Shark Diver.
Kobe said he became interested in sharks since he was a kid living in Italy, Graf told Insider.
"He dove with us. He just did one dive, he saw two different sharks," Graf said. "I talked to him a long time about him growing up Europe ... he told me when growing up in Italy, where his dad took him, he was always fascinated with sharks."
During the dive, Graf's company didn't have booties large enough to fit Bryant's feet so he did the dive in his Nikes.
During the trip, Bryant was worried that photos of him would end up on social media and cause some to think he wasn't taking his recovery seriously. He still posed for photos with passengers on the boat and was friendly, Graf said.
Bryant's love of sharks came in handy when trying to make a comeback after Allen Iverson scored 41 points and 10 assists on him in 1999, according to a story he wrote in the Players' Tribune.
After that defeat, Bryant became manic, obsessively reading every book and article about Iverson, he wrote.
He made Iverson the center of what he called his musecage, which he once described to Esquire as "a room decorated with any and everything that inspires you."
"I obsessively studied his every success, and his every struggle. I obsessively searched for any weakness I could find. I searched the world for musings to add to my [Allen Iverson] musecage," he wrote in the Tribune. "This led me to study how great white sharks hunt seals off the coast of South Africa."
Just under a year later, Bryant was once again assigned to guard Iverson. That time Iverson didn't score on him at all.
After the game, Bryant felt annoyed that he ever allowed one player to get under his skin like that. He felt like he put someone else in control of his own progress and decided never to let it happen again.
"I will choose whether or not your goals for the upcoming season compromise where I want to be in 20 years," Bryant wrote. "If they don't, happy hunting to you. But if they do… I will hunt you obsessively. It's only natural."
Eventually, sharks even made their way into Bryant's home. His Newport Coast mansion, which was listed for sale at $8.6 million in 2013, had its own tank.
Graf said that he and Bryant never spoke after the dive in September 2013, but he was still devastated when he learned of last month's crash.
"You feel like you lost someone you were close to," Graf said of how people felt about Bryant's death. "It kind of hits you personally."
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