Kobe Bryant was impressive even in high school.
Yes, he was drafted into the NBA right after graduation. But he also took singer Brandy to his prom.
When the Lakers player, who passed away Sunday at 41 in a helicopter crash, was 17, he met the then-star of the sitcom “Moesha” at the 1996 Essense Awards.
“He came home … and said, ‘I met such a nice, beautiful, intelligent, sweet person,’ ” his mother Pam Bryant told the Philadelphia Daily News at the time, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer.
Brandy was just as excited to go with him.
“He asked me to go to the prom with him, and since he was a nice guy … I asked my mom, and she said yes,” Brandy told the New York Daily News at the time.
News of his famous date got around fast. Lower Merion High School in his native Philadelphia had to hire extra security for the party at Bellevue Hotel. But the other students weren’t exactly as thrilled to have a celebrity in their midst.
“It’s supposed to be everybody’s night. Now it’s not going to be a prom, it’s going to be this other thing ’cause Bran-dee (eye roll) is going to be there,” said classmate Sarah Cohen.
On May 25, 1996, Mamba and Brandy, who was also 17 at the time, showed up three hours late to prom.
Like most kids that night, they arrived in a limo. Both Bryant and Brandy wore traditional matching flowers.
But their stardom was apparent. Her dress was Moschino. Paparazzi swarmed the hotel’s entrance. Brandy’s security guard, publicist and photographer accompanied the couple. Chaperones snapped pictures of the celebs.
“Once they got past the press, people just treated it like, ‘Oh, hi, Brandy,’ ” said classmate Dan Gross. “It wasn’t a big spectacle. People were paying attention to them. But I’m not sure how exciting or vivid it was. It was all pretty low-key, like a normal prom.”
Brandy made friends with female students in the bathroom, bonding over their hair and makeup.
“She said ‘I’m really nervous,’ because she didn’t go to her own prom and this was her first,” said Audrey Gornish. The “The Boy is Mine” singer posed for pictures with students.
Though Bryant and Brandy didn’t go on to date, they still had a romantic night. “I pecked him twice. His lips were so soft,” she said.
And it wasn’t necessarily the end of their relationship, either. Months after their night together, Bryant appeared on Brandy’s show, playing a high-school basketball star.
In 2016, Brandy told TMZ that she still has the dress she wore to the prom.