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Sneakers Kobe Bryant gifted to LeBron James in high school up for auction

A pair of sneakers LeBron James wore in high school after receiving them as a gift from Kobe Bryant are currently up for auction.

The sneakers, which Bryant gave to then-St. Vincent–St. Mary High School prep star James in 2002, are a pair of the ultra-rare adidas Kobe 2s, patriotic-themed kicks created to honor the victims of the 9/11 attack.

James actually wore the Kobe-gifted sneakers in a game against Carmelo Anthony’s Oak Hill Academy team and scored 36 points.

“I think my most fond moment is he gave me his shoes when I was in high school,” James recalled in 2016, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “I think I was playing in a tournament in Teaneck, New Jersey, and they were playing in the [2002] All-Star game in Philly. And I had an opportunity to go meet him, and he gave me a pair of his shoes, and I actually wore them in a game against Oak Hill, against Melo [Carmelo Anthony], actually. So, six degrees of separation right there.”

Interestingly enough, the sneakers were one size too small.

“He gave me a pair of shoes that I ended up wearing the following night,” James added. “It was the red-white-and-blue Kobes. “I was a 15 and he was a 14, and I wore them anyway, and I sat and just talked to him for a bit. He gave me the shoes and I rocked them in the game.”

The sneakers will certainly generate considerable interest in the auction market, which has been operating at a frenetic pace and generating a mind-blowing amount of money exchanging hands over the past year or so.

The auction will be overseen by Heritage Auctions, which describes the prized pair of sneakers as follows in the listing:

The patriotic colorway displays the Stars & Stripes on the uppers, rubberized toe boxes, three-stripe motif on the midsoles/outer soles, Adidas on the inner tongues, and the Mamba silhouette on the insoles. The design was created to commemorate the loss of life in the recent 9/11 terror attacks. The custom shoes bear no interior tagging but exhibit fine game wear.

Bryant’s death along with daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2020 unsurprisingly hit James especially hard, as the two developed a strong friendship over the years. James paid tribute to the late legend when the Lakers received their championship rings in December.

The game-worn adidas Kobe 2s sneakers currently have a bid of $18,000. The auction closes on Feb. 27.