Many basketball fans have wondered if Thomas Bryant, the 24-year-old center for the Los Angeles Lakers, is related to the late Kobe Bryant, the legendary Lakers star who died in a helicopter crash in 2020. The two players share a common surname and have both played for the same franchise, but is there any blood connection between them? Here’s what we know.
The Short Answer: No
To put it simply, the answer is no. Thomas and Kobe are not even remotely related. Thomas Bryant, born in July 1997, when Kobe had already entered the NBA after high school, just happens to share the family name “Bryant” with the Black Mamba. Thomas was born to parents who were basketball fans but never played a professional basketball game.
Kobe, on the other hand, had a father who played in the NBA for several years, while also playing overseas in countries like Italy, where Kobe spent much of his childhood. Kobe’s father was Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, who played for the Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers and the Houston Rockets in the NBA.
The Long Answer: Different Paths to the NBA
Thomas Bryant and Kobe Bryant have different paths to the NBA, despite both being drafted by the Lakers. Thomas played college basketball at Indiana University for two seasons, where he averaged 12.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He was selected by the Utah Jazz with the 42nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, but was traded to the Lakers on draft night.
Kobe, meanwhile, skipped college and declared for the 1996 NBA draft straight out of high school. He was picked by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick, but was traded to the Lakers shortly after. Kobe went on to have a storied 20-year career with the Lakers, winning five championships, two Finals MVPs, one regular season MVP and 18 All-Star selections.
The Current Situation: Thomas Bryant’s Return to LA
Thomas Bryant only played one season with the Lakers before being waived in 2018. He was claimed by the Washington Wizards, where he showed some promise as a young big man who could stretch the floor and rebound. He averaged 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his first season with the Wizards, leading the NBA in two-point field goal percentage with 68.5%.
However, injuries derailed his progress in Washington. He tore his ACL in January 2021 and missed most of that season. He returned in December 2021 but suffered another knee injury that sidelined him for another month. He played only 31 games for the Wizards in 2021-22, averaging 14.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
In August 2022, Thomas Bryant signed a one-year deal with the Lakers, reuniting with his former team and former Wizards teammate Russell Westbrook. He has been a solid contributor for the Lakers so far this season, averaging 11.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while shooting 40% from three-point range. He has also had some clutch moments, such as a game-winning dunk against his former team Washington Wizards on January 3rd.
Thomas Bryant has said that he is happy to be back in LA and that he has learned a lot from playing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He has also expressed his admiration for Kobe Bryant and his legacy, saying that he tries to emulate his work ethic and mentality on the court. While he may not be related to Kobe by blood, he is certainly related by spirit.
Thomas Bryant and Kobe Bryant are not related by blood or by family. They just happen to share a common last name and have both played for the Los Angeles Lakers. However, they have different paths to the NBA and different levels of achievement in their careers. Thomas Bryant is still trying to establish himself as a reliable center in the league, while Kobe Bryant is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.
However, Thomas Bryant has shown respect and admiration for Kobe Bryant and his legacy, and has tried to follow his example of hard work and dedication on and off the court. He has also been a valuable addition to the Lakers this season, helping them compete for another championship.
Therefore, while Thomas Bryant and Kobe Bryant are not related by blood or by family, they are related by basketball.