By Alexandria Hoff


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Kobe Bryant’s success on the basketball court started at a young age. It didn’t take long for people to realize he was a special talent.

Eyewitness News spoke to one of Bryant’s high school coaches about the boy who turned into a legend.

On Dec. 7, 1992, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article about the Lower Merion Aces. Under “newcomers” it read, “Remember this name: Kobe Bryant.”

Jeremy Treatman wrote that initial article. He got to know the future star when Kobe was 12, then covered his budding career extensively as a member of the media before being brought on as an assistant coach to the Aces, where he also served as a liaison between the press, public and Kobe.

“He loved all the big crowds. He loved all the interest in him,” Treatman recalls.

Athletically and scholastically, there was plenty.

“He could have gone anywhere he wanted. He could have gone anywhere he wanted on academics,” Treatman said.

Making Bryant even more of a rarity, he made the jump from Lower Merion to the NBA.

“Kobe Bryant has one level. His bar is here, everyone else’s bar is here,” Treatman said. “That’s the difference I saw as a kid, that’s the difference I saw as an NBA player and that’s the difference that I was seeing in his new chapter from age 40 to what should have been 85.”

The hours following the passing of Bryant and his daughter Gianna has left those who know them struggling. Where does all that promise go?

“Superman is not supposed to die. Mr. Invincibility is not supposed to die, it doesn’t make sense to any of us,” Treatman said.

That includes Lower Merion head basketball coach Gregg Downer, who coached Bryant from 1992 to 1996 when the Aces won the state championship.

In a statement, he wrote, in part:

“It may seem odd for a grown man to admit it, but yesterday I lost my hero. Never have I witnessed such passion, work ethic, and intensity — such a unique and purposeful drive for greatness. No excuses. No shortcuts. No days off. Kobe set the standard. He was our Superman.”

Alexandria Hoff