Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa at the ESPY Awards in 2003.
Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa at the ESPY Awards in 2003.

The billion-dollar empire Kobe Bryant leaves behind

His tragic death in a helicopter crash, along with his beloved daughter, has shocked the world.

And with an estimated wealth of $US680 million ($1.3 billion), Kobe Bryant was one of the richest athletes of all time.

During his 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he built an empire from his playing salary - which at $328 million dwarfed those of his teammates - savvy business deals and lucrative endorsements.


In recent years, a major chunk of Bryant's wealth came from his canny decision to invest $6 million in the BodyArmor sports drink.

The NBA legend reaped the rewards when  Coca-Cola invested in the firm, turning his stake in the company into an estimated $200 million.



In 2016 - the year he was named the highest-paid athlete in the history of team sports by Forbes - Bryant earned roughly $26 million from endorsements.

One of Bryant's biggest - and most well-known globally - was with Nike. In 2013, he secured a deal paying $10 million a year.



Other brands he endorsed during his career included Adidas - which signed him up to a $20 million when he was still a teenager - Swiss luxury watchmaker Hublot, sports collectibles company Panini America, Nintendo, Turkish Airlines, and Sprite.

The five-time NBA champion had moved away in recent years from straight endorsement deals to being a business owner.



In August 2016, he and entrepreneur Jeff Stibel officially set up a $100 million venture-capital fund, Bryant Stibel, to invest in technology, media and data companies.

They had already invested in 15 companies together since 2013 including sports media website The Players Tribune, legal-services company Legal Zoom, mobile game designer Scopely, Alibaba Group and others.


Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa at the ESPY Awards in 2003.
Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa at the ESPY Awards in 2003.




Shortly after his retirement, Bryant also started production company Kobe Studios - which has since been rebranded as Granity Studios - with the goal of "creating new ways to tell stories around sports."'



In 2017, Bryant stunned the entertainment world when he won an Oscar for his animated short film Dear Basketball, which was based on a heartfelt love letter he wrote to the game.



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He also teamed up with current professional stars like James Harden and JuJu Smith-Schuster to launch a body care company for athletes called Art of Sport.


Throughout his career and post-retirement, Bryant and his family made the ultra-rich enclave of Orange County their home base, with the star regularly flying to training in LA by private helicopter.



In 2012, he owned three houses that were estimated to be worth $18.8 million.

The family's main Mediterranean -style residence in the Newport Coast area - a one-hour drive from Los Angeles - is reportedly worth $21.3 million and boasts ten bathrooms, six bedrooms, a two-level sport court, a home gym and a five-car garage.