Kobe Bryant recently signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension that made him a member of the Los Angeles Lakers for life, but that doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about the next phase of his career.
Sidelined with an Achilles tear and a left tibial plateau fracture at various points this season, Bryant’s had opportunities to pursue new business ventures, and revealed to ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell that he recently launched his own company, Kobe Inc.
Bryant told Rovell that he had been contemplating the establishment of his own company for more than a decade, but didn’t have the time to act until this season:
I have always had ideas and always had a vision of where I wanted to go going back to 2000, but they are just ideas. Now, once the Achilles injury took place, I’m sitting at home for months not moving, a couple things set in. One is that there is only so many Modern Family episodes a person can watch. And then two, what do I do now?
Kobe talked about his vision for the next phase of his career, providing a mission statement:
We want to own and help grow brands and ideas that challenge and redefine the sports industry while inspiring. If it doesn’t have the limbs of the sports industry, which I understand extremely well, then I probably won’t touch it.
Matthew Moreno of Lakers Nation notes that the topic of Kobe’s post-playing days are often discussed, so now we at least know some of what Kobe wants to do after he walks away from the NBA:
With the end of Kobe Bryant’s career seemingly around the corner, many have questioned the five-time champion on what his plans are upon retiring. Though Bryant was at times seen coaching while sidelined by injury in recent seasons, he has expressed little to no desire in pursuing a coaching career once he is done playing.
And fittingly, Bryant’s first investment won’t stray far from the athletic arena, according to Rovell, as the 16-time All-Star has decided to get involved in the highly competitive sports drink market. The Mamba has invested “millions” of his own money in the upstart sports drink BODYARMOR, which has coconut water in it and “boasts of delivering more potassium to an athlete’s body while offering less sodium than its competitors,” per Rovell.
Bryant isn’t the first athlete to partner up with BODYARMOR, according to Rovell. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski have all signed on as sponsors.
In addition, Forbes reports that Bryant’s new business partners have a history of hitting it big in the sports drink market, making his first investment a potentially strong one:
BodyArmor founders Repole and Collins have already hit it big in the beverage industry. Repole co-founded Vitaminwater, which he sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion in 2007. Collins sold Fuze Beverage and NOS Energy Drink to Coca-Cola for $250 million the same year. BodyArmor is available in 20 states now and Repole says he expects it to be in all 50 states within two years.
Of course, we should have seen this coming.
Earlier this year when the Lakers were on an East Coast swing, Bryant stopped by a marketing class at Boston College in order to develop his business savvy.
With a resume that already boasts five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, four All-Star Game MVPs, a regular-season MVP and two scoring titles, Bryant can now add CEO to his laundry list of achievements before the age of 40.
So while he’s not going to step on the court again this season, per Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, Bryant will be able to remain competitive as he quickly becomes engrossed in the cutthroat world of business.
And with a competitive spirit, it’s probably only a matter of time before Bryant finds himself on the panel of Shark Tank alongside the NBA’s most famous contemporary entrepreneur, Mark Cuban, attempting to invest in trendy new ventures.