Report: Rare pair of sneakers Kobe Bryant gifted LeBron James in 2002 going up for auction

Robert Marvi
3 Min Read

A pair of sneakers from late Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant will soon be auctioned off.

But these aren’t just any pair of Bryant sneakers. They’re a pair that the Black Mamba gifted to LeBron James in 2002 before one of the latter’s more memorable high school games.

“I think my most fond moment is he gave me his shoes when I was in high school,” James said. “I think I was playing in a tournament in Teaneck, N.J., and they were playing in the [2002] All-Star game in Philly. And I had an opportunity to go meet him, and he gave me a pair of his shoes, and I actually wore them in a game against Oak Hill, against Melo (Carmelo Anthony), actually.”

On that night, as the old saying goes, it was the shoes, as James had an incredible night by scoring 36 points, while Anthony poured in 34 points.

That season, James was a junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio and was starting to garner major attention as a hoops phenom.

This pair of kicks are also special because they served as a sort of tribute to those who were lost during perhaps the darkest hour in American history.

“The patriotic colorway displays the Stars and Stripes on the uppers, rubberized toe boxes, three-stripe motif on the midsoles/outer soles, Adidas on the inner tongues, and the Mamba silhouette on the insoles,” wrote Heritage Auctions. “The design was created to commemorate the loss of life in the recent 9/11 terror attacks. The custom shoes bear no interior tagging but exhibit fine game wear.

“Our consignor purchased these, and several other LeBron James items in this auction, from an estate sale in Akron, Ohio. Letter of provenance from consignor. LOA from Heritage Auctions.”

At first, James and Bryant didn’t have an especially tight relationship, but the two legends grew closer and closer over the years, especially as Bryant’s career wound down.

When Bryant was killed in a tragic helicopter crash just over a year ago, James was particularly grief-stricken, and he and the entire team decided to dedicate their 2020 NBA championship run to the Pennsylvania native.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif., and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s and fell in love with the Nick Van Exel-led Lakers teams. He truly cherishes the Kobe Bryant-era of Lakers basketball and the five world championships that came with it, and is looking forward to the team's next NBA title.