During the 2016-17 NBA season, Kobe Bryant’s memorabilia which featured his No. 33 jersey was stolen from ‘The Kobe Showcase’ at Lower Merion High School.
As the incident was ‘pretty heartbreaking’ for Bryant’s high school, the jersey has now resurfaced and been returned by a Chinese fan.
Liu Zhe, who purchased the jersey for approximately $2,000 this past October, noticed it was similar to the one that was stolen nearly two years ago.
While Zhe had hoped to personally return it to Bryant at the upcoming 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup draw in China, he mailed it back to the high school and did not ask for any compensation, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Liu, who has already met Bryant a handful of times when the five-time champion made promotional appearances in both China and the United States, said he was motivated to right the wrong because of a note Bryant wrote to him. Liu was named camper of the day at a Bryant-sponsored camp in Los Angeles in 2018.
Liu posed with Bryant for a photograph when he received the camp recognition and Bryant autographed the photo of the two of them, adding a personal inscription. “He signed, ‘Dream big! Live epic! Mamba mentality,'” Liu told ESPN. “What I did was my ‘mamba mentality.’”
With the signature on the jersey being verified as Bryant’s, it is an incredible story. Not only did Bryant’s jersey end up in China, but his fan was noble by recognizing the stolen memorabilia and then returning it.
While Bryant is one of the greatest players in NBA history, Lower Merion High School is where it all started for him. From a 4-20 record during his freshman year to winning the Aces’ first state championship in 53 years during his senior year, his No. 33 hangs in the rafters as a reminder of the history that was made.