The cover quote from Jeff Pearlman on this book sums it up perfectly – every superhero needs an origin story. The Rise is very much the origin story of Kobe Bryant, a singular talent and force of personality who shot to prominence as a high schooler and eventually became one of basketball’s modern greats.
The Rise seeks to navigate a path through the myths and urban legends that have sprouted about Kobe as the last great high school phenom of the pre-internet / smart phone era. Kobe finished high school at a time when holding a press conference to announce your next step seemed like an absurd indulgence rather than the routine event it is now.
The book ultimately paints the picture of a kid with a rare talent but an even rarer level of determination and commitment to make it to the top. It also captures the more relatable human side of the teenager – his shyness, his friendships and his desire to win a high school basketball tournament. The book is all the more powerful knowing how Kobe’s story ultimately developed, both on and off the court – the journey from phenom to villain to champion to ‘girl dad’ to legend.
Sielski has carried out a huge amount of research and spoken to over 100 people who knew Kobe during his childhood. He also had access to previously unpublished interviews with Kobe from his high school days. It’s a hugely impressive work of biography and a unique addition to the growing number of Kobe books since his untimely death.
If you like this book, also check out: Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant by Roland Lazenby.