On Super Bowl Sunday in 2017, two men broke into Lower Merion High School and stole several pieces of Kobe Bryant memorabilia, including a signed jersey and several pairs of shoes. In the two years since the robbery, there had been no leads on who committed the crime and none of the items were returned.
However, that changed when Liu Zhe, a Kobe Bryant superfan from China, purchased a Kobe jersey for $2,000 and realized that the jersey looked eerily familiar to the one that was stolen from the Bryant shrine at Lower Merion in Philadelphia.
Liu originally wanted to return the jersey to Bryant in person when he arrives in China to announce the draw for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Liu contacted a Lower Merian basketball rep through Instagram and agreed to send the jersey back instead of waiting for a potential meeting with Bryant.
The best part, Liu didn’t ask for anything in return other than the hope that Bryant would learn about the kind gesture. Liu has met Bryant on several occasions when the former Lakers superstar made trips to China and said that returning the jersey was his form of Mamba Mentality.
“We’d love to know what happened to the other items too but just the fact that someone, when they realized what they had, was willing to send it back and do the right thing was a very welcome turn of events,” said Doug Young, a Lower Merion assistant coach who played with Bryant in high school. “We’re very excited to have the jersey back in its appropriate place.”
The Lower Merion Police Department was able to authenticate the jersey through a local pawn shop and have received information about the jersey’s seller from Liu. There’s still no word on who took the jersey and the other items, but there is a chance that Liu’s information can help the LMPD in their efforts of catching the thieves.