Kobe Bryant has led an odd life, moving to the United States from Italy as kid, becoming the nation’s best high school player, taking Brandy to prom and joining the Lakers all before he turned 20.
Now the legend is sharing another crazy piece of his young life in a new profile from HBO’s Real Sports, in which Bryant reveals some wisdom he received from Michael Jackson when he was still a teen.
“I was starting to get flack for being an introvert and being so serious all the time about the game. And he wanted to call and give me encouragement and say, ‘Don’t change for them. You have to stay focused. If you wanna be one of the all-time greats you have to study the all-time greats. You have to be obsessive about what you do and how you do it.’”
Kobe Bryant wrote a remembrance of the King of Pop in Time magazine after Jackson’s death in 2009, and later said to Yahoo that Jackson served as a mentor, teaching him about the importance of single-minded focus on greatness.
– Brendan Maloy