Feb 16, 2010, 3:15 PM EDT
Growing up, Kobe Bryant didn’t like the fact he was named after a steak. An expensive, pampered and tasty steak, but still a steak. Now he is no longer alone — as his celebrity has grown the last 14 years, so has the popularity of his name.
The more than 10,000 American families who named a son or daughter Kobe in the past 13 years represent a diverse ethnic and geographic background. There’s a hoops-crazed pastor in Orlando, an aspiring rapper in Pittsburgh, a women’s basketball star turned elementary school principal in Georgia and two pro beach volleyball players in Santa Barbara. Their admiration for Bryant is the common thread tying them together.
Of course, epicenter of the trend is the Los Angeles area, where the influence of the Lakers is greatest. In one Highland neighborhood alone, two 8-year-olds are both named after Bryant, as are two boys in the same first-grade class at Riverside’s Collett Elementary School.
More than 10,000 Kobes? You know that is Mark Cuban’s biggest fear, right?
This shows the power of celebrity, and in a few years we’ll be able to do the same story with LeBron. We should all just be thankful that Zydrunas Ilgauskas didn’t become a mega-star.