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As we get ready to kick off the NBA season let’s look back at one of the league’s biggest stars.

Kobe, age 11, plays in a fundraiser while living in Italy.

We all knew Bryant was a superstar when he took singer/actress Brandy to his high school prom in 1996.

A member of the East team, Bryant shoots over the West team’s Jamaal Magloire during Magic’s Roundball Classic at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., in April 1996.

Before he became the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer, Kobe Bryant was a star on the Lower Merion (Pa.) High School basketball team. And he was all smiles in this April 1996 photo. After winning the state 4A championship, Bryant and his teammates were honored at the state capitol in Harrisburg.

Of the many reasons Bryant should be smiling in this 1997 photo, perhaps he’s flashing his pearly whites because he was the first guard taken straight out high school in the NBA draft. Or because he would become the youngest starter ever in the league. Just a couple possibilities.

Here’s Kobe, striking a pose during his rookie photo shoot. Charming.

Yes, he can jump really high and and really far and dunk really hard. That’s Kobe.

Like father, like son. (Only the son went on to become a better basketball player.) Bryant poses with his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, a former Philadelphia 76er and former coach of the WNBA’s L.A. Sparks.

The rookie poses outside his new home in 1997, the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif.

See the rest of the photos on SI.com >>

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