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Kobe Bryant Ciraglio

Good memories of Kobe Bryant in Tuscany, Italy

It’s not a secret: Italy loves Kobe Bryant. His father Joe played professional basketball there for eight-year, becoming a faster one of the most important players in the Italian basketball first division at that time. His son Kobe grew up here and he ever brought Italy into his heart while dominating the NBA. Multiple times he started talk in Italian during games, just a little sign of what Italy meant for him.

Italy will always be close to my heart“, he said in 2011. “I grew up here. I used to ride my bike here. There were all my friends, I have many memories, it’s special“, he said in 2016. We are going to give you memories of Kobe Bryant’s times spent in Tuscany, while his father Joe was playing for Pistoia between 1987 and 1989.

Memorie of Kobe Bryant in Tuscany: “Kobe, when you come back, I’ve put it higher up

Via di Ciriceto 49 is an address in Ciraglio, a small village of not even a thousand people in the hills around Pistoia. There is a beautiful villa there for an American family of five: a mother, two girls, and a boy, with a father named Joe. And that every day comes down to Pistoia to play basketball in the formation that was then called Maltinti Pistoia and played in the A2 series. It was 1987 and the child in question was called Kobe Bean Bryant.

A very young Kobe Bryant playing basketball in Pistoia, Tuscany

Everyone knows who Kobe became, but few know that his father Joe was in turn a fantastic player, with a rare ability to make the basket and entertain the public and make them love him: ask the fans of Rieti, Reggio Calabria, Pistoia and Reggio Emilia. Those who remember him love Papa Joe.

So in the wake of his father, since we are in Tuscany, little Kobe has grown up with a healthy upbringing because Joe and his mother Pamela have put a lot of effort into basketball. The people of Ciraglio repeat, as if they were the words of a song, that Kobe used to spend hours and hours on the village court shooting hoops against older boys: he was a ’78 against ’77 or ’76. Wherever he went, Kobe was also loved for his passion for basketball and the fantastic smile that accompanied him throughout his all too short life.

So when on the morning of July 25, 2013, Kobe – the day of St. James, patron saint of Pistoia – showed up in Cireglio early in the morning coming from Florence with his family about to leave for a holiday in Capri, half the town was shocked. Because no one was expecting it. A tour of the bar, one at the camp, which at that moment was in total disarray, something of which “Black Mamba” was sorry, and a visit to the Pierattini family: he took communion with one of the children of this family, his age and was very friendly with his sister Alessia.

Among laughter, jokes, and emotion for the memories of that cheerful child, always ready to joke with everyone, the morning and the visit of Kobe went by with great happiness of all.

A memory of Kobe Bryant in Cineglio, Tuscany

In Cireglio there was a sign indicating the entrance to the village where on 25 June everyone had a selfie with the American champion. When the administration had to change the signs, a boy from the village asked for that historic sign and, together with other friends, put it up at the entrance to the basketball court.  The sign says, “Kobe, when you come back, I’ve put it higher up“.

Photo: Alessandro Tomasi / Facebook