Several pieces of Kobe Bryant memorabilia have been stolen from Lower Merion High School, according to an email sent to parents from the school.
Sometime Sunday evening, the lock was broken on a display case, known to students at "Kobe's Shrine," outside the Bryant Gymnasium. Among the items stolen were a framed replica of Bryant's Lower Merion jersey, the Aces' 1996 PIAA Boys' Basketball AAAA State Championship trophy and net from the title game, and several pairs of Nike sneakers signed by the Lakers superstar.
"We're bummed," said Doug Young, Lower Merion's director of community relations, who said he could not understand why someone would steal items that do not have a significant monetary value.
"It's a replica jersey, it's not even the jersey he wore in high school," said Young, a high school teammate of Bryant. "I'm not sure what someone would do with a state championship trophy. For us, the items are important because they represent some really wonderful memories."
Lower Merion police on Monday were investigating the incident and reviewing surveillance video from inside and outside the school.
"Material items can be replaced and we will make every effort to restore and even enhance the contents of the case with the help of alumni and friends," principal Sean Hughes and athletics director Don Walsh said in the joint email to parents.
"And even if we cannot replace all the items, the moments that produced them are still very much alive in our memories and honored through the ongoing traditions of Aces Nation."
Bryant, who was born in Philadelphia and is the son of former 76ers player Joe Bryant, was a standout during his career at Lower Merion. Not only was he the first freshman to start for the school's varsity team in decades, he ended his high school career with 2,883 points, more than either Wilt Chamberlain (Overbrook) or Lionel Simmons (South Philadelphia).
Lower Merion coach Gregg Downer said he had been in contact with Bryant since the theft. "He didn't say too much," Downer said. "He's still trying to process things."
The coach said the items "mean a lot to our legacy. We've always tried to be transparent, allowing the community and anyone who came to our gym to view the items. The case always drew a lot of positive attention."
Mike Lachs, Lower Merion's scorebook keeper for about the last decade, said he could not understand why someone would steal the items.
"You can't sell the stuff," Lachs said. "What can you do with it?"