A Chinese fan of Kobe Bryant has returned a jersey he bought online after discovering that he purchased stolen memorabilia of the former Los Angeles Lakers player.
, a 28-year-old die-hard fan of the four-time NBA All-Star MVP player and collector of many Bryant memorabilia, bought the jersey online in October 2018 for $2,000.
However, he became worried that he might have purchased a stolen jersey, according to ESPN
He noticed that the jersey, which the 40-year-old NBA star wore before becoming a professional basketball player, looked similar to the garment that was stolen from a display case in Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania in 2017.
Liu was initially going to give back the jersey to Bryant himself when he visits Shenzhen, China for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
But his plans changed when he reached out to a representative from the Lower Merion’s basketball team via Instagram with the help of Chinese professional basketball player Saiyuan Bian, who translated for him.
“We reached out to Bian and said, ‘I think that this guy may be demanding a meeting with Kobe, but maybe it’s getting lost in translation,’” Aces assistant coach Doug Young, who was also a teammate of Bryant when he was still playing for Lower Merion High School, told ESPN. “So Bian, our friend from China, became kind of the intermediary in all of this.”
He mailed back the jersey, complete with Bryant’s signature, and was later taken to a local memorabilia shop which confirmed its authenticity. Liu reportedly did not ask for any compensation for returning the jersey.
“He signed, ‘Dream big! Live epic! Mamba mentality.’ What I did was my ‘mamba mentality,'” Liu said, citing a personalized message Bryant wrote to him at a Bryant-sponsored camp in Los Angeles in 2018 as the motivation to do the right thing.
An investigation into the case is reportedly still ongoing, but Young believes that fans of Bryant will be thrilled to learn that the jersey is back on display.
“I’m sure the Kobe tourists who come to Lower Merion High School to check out the Kobe Bryant Gymnasium and the trophy case will enjoy seeing the jersey again,” he said. “For our school community, it’s certainly bigger than that – we appreciate that someone was generous and willing enough to give us back a little piece of our history.”
While Bryant didn’t wear this specific jersey during his games at the high school, it is one of only 10 replicas made by the school when the basketball player retired the #33 to play for the Lakers.
All 10 signed jerseys were distributed to school officials as well as team boosters, and one was kept on display.