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Memorabilia related to the on-field exploits of sports greats consistently commands a high price at auctions, where game-worn football jerseys and basketball shoes, rookie baseball cards, and other items that bring back cherished memories are scooped up by collectors.

Kobe Bryant items remain in high demand

Kobe Bryant memorabilia has been snapped up by collectors since his Jan. 26 death in a helicopter crash that also killed his daughter Gianna and seven others.

Much of the merchandise being bought is related to Bryant’s two decades with the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers during which he averaged 25 points and 4.7 assists per game. He became as well-known in Los Angeles and across the country as fellow Lakers great Magic Johnson and the many Hollywood celebrities.

However, one fascinating bit of memorabilia related to Bryant’s basketball exploits long before he jumped directly from high school to the NBA made news over the weekend when it sold at auction.

The minimum bid was set at $2,500 and Its selling price of $30,326 had everything to do with a prediction that Bryant penned into a classmate’s yearbook while still in junior high school in Pennsylvania.

In the same auction, a love poem written by Michael Jordan was sold for $11,689.

Kobe Bryant peeks into the future

A 1992 yearbook from Bala Cynwyd Middle School in Pennsylvania was one of the items featured by Iconic Auctions in Scottsville, Arizona, at its most recent monthly sale.

Kobe Bryant’s picture doesn’t appear in the yearbook because he enrolled midway through the school year, but he made an impression with what he wrote in a copy belonged to a friend named Marc regarding his own future as a basketball player.

Bryant signed the yearbook and added this message in blue ink:

“In a few years you probably will be dunking on me. Not!! How bout those Lakers. Your friend Kobe Bryant #24”

It would be just four years later that the Charlotte Hornets would select Bryant 13th overall out of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and then trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers, giving the yearbook scribble special significance.

The original owner of the yearbook sold it in 2004 to a collector who accumulated and sold a large number of pairs of basketball shoes worn by Bryant.

More coming to the market soon

The inventory of memorabilia related to an athlete with a 20-year professional career is substantial. With Kobe Bryant’s death still fresh in the memory of fans, others are moving to take advantage of the interest in his collectibles.

Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles announced last week that its April 30 sale will include multiple Bryant-related items including the cement handprints from his induction into the Grauman’s Chinese Theater gallery and two of his Los Angeles Lakers jerseys. One of the uniforms is from 2000 and features a black band in memory of Wilt Chamberlain, who had recently died.

Meanwhile, eBay has taken down listings for souvenirs distributed at last week’s public memorial at the Staples Center, citing its policy against attempts to profit from tragedies. Bryant items unrelated to the memorial service remain available on eBay.