‘Mamba mentality’: Stolen Kobe Bryant jersey returned after two years

A signed Kobe Bryant jersey that was stolen from a display case at his alma mater — Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania — has been returned after more than two years, according to a story from ESPN detailing the jersey's unique journey.

The jersey was purchased online by Liu Zhe, a diehard Bryant fan from China, last October for around $2,000 as another piece for his collection commemorating the Los Angeles Lakers legend, according to ESPN. After buying it, though, Liu said he noticed that the jersey looked awfully similar to the one that was stolen from the high school's display case in 2017, along with other Bryant items. 

According to ESPN, Liu got in touch with a representative from the school's basketball team on Instagram and agreed to mail the jersey back to the school. The only compensation he asked for was for Bryant to be notified that the jersey had been recovered.

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Kobe Bryant photographed on court at Lower Merion High School (Photo: Eileen Blass, USA TODAY)

Liu told ESPN that he was motivated to return the jersey because of a note Bryant wrote to him when the two met at a camp in Los Angeles last year. 

"He signed, 'Dream big! Live epic! Mamba mentality,' " Liu told ESPN. "What I did was my 'mamba mentality.' "

The school now has the jersey in its possession, according to ESPN, and the signature has since been verified as authentic by a local memorabilia shop.

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