Kobe Bryant was on top of the world in 2003 as he led the Los Angeles Lakers to win after win. But that all came crashing down after the star was charged with sexual assault.
Bryant proclaimed himself innocent and the charges were later dropped. The star and his accuser reached a civil settlement, and Bryant’s reputation was badly tainted.
That’s when he named himself “Black Mamba” as an alter ego to cope with the backlash.
An alter ego inspired by ‘Kill Bill’
Inspired by the code name for a deadly assassin in Quentin Tarantino’s 2003 movie “Kill Bill,” Bryant adopted the nickname to separate his life on and off the court, according to a 2014 interview with The New Yorker.
“The name [Kobe Bryant] just evokes such a negative emotion,” Bryant told the magazine. “I said, ‘If I create this alter ego, so now when I play this is what’s coming out of your mouth, it separates the personal stuff, right?’ You’re not watching David Banner — you’re watching the Hulk.”
In a 2015 interview with Ahmad Rashad, Bryant said of the animal that inspired the name, “When I step on that court, I become that. I am that killer snake. I’m stone cold, man.”