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Rap heads might recall that awkward time period during the ’90s when it was a thing to rap and ball. Not ball in the tangential sense (ya know, with champagne and cars), but literally play basketball. Shaquille O’Neal did it when he discussed how “Phil” was his father (his biological didn’t bother) or rocked (what’s up doc?) with the FU-Schnickens. There were many others. It still happens today (shout out to Metta World Peace). However, did you know Kobe Bryant was being trained by Steve Stoute to be a mic controller?

There’s a whole story there that you need to read.

In a detailed article for Grantland, writer Thomas Golianopoulos tells the little known tale of Kobe Bryant’s ill-fated rap career. Bryant traveled the 8 Mile Road to get there – with some detours of course. He stayed in Steve Stoute’s NJ home in the summer of ’98 “training” for this MC position. He even battled Lyricist Lounge veterans Punchline and Wordsworth who of all things noticed his heavy Canibus influence. The story explains Bryant’s rap journey – from a childhood friend named Kevin “Sandman” Sanchez (now known as Tana Da Beast) helping him rhyme while even in the clink, to being an uncredited feature on Shaq’s “3 X’s Dope.”

While Bryant even attempted the rap entrepreneur angle with his label Heads High Entertainment, he couldn’t quite understand how to manage rap talent, especially since he no longer was one. The story takes several twists and turns, and you can read it all on Grantland’s website. Struggle rappers listen up: If Kobe can’t make it, there might be no hope for you either.

Photo: NBA