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Profile of Janet Jackson, Kobe Bryant

Aired March 27, 2004 - 11:00   ET


KATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Katherine Callaway and "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" is coming up next. Here's what's happening at this hour. There has been more violence in Iraq this weekend. Two Iraqi citizens were killed in an attack on city hall in the northern town of Mosul. A policeman was gunned down at his home in Kirkuk. And five Iraqis were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad.
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has agreed to meet with the leader of the opposition party as thousands of demonstrators protest his narrow victory last weekend. The incumbent defeated his challenger by 30,000 votes, but 300,000 ballots were declared invalid. He had said he would accept the results of a recount.

And when gasoline prices go up, people steal. That is the lesson learned by gasoline retailers as prices hit record highs. They're up 200 to 300 percent over the last few months. The Department of Energy is predicting that prices will continue to climb this spring.

More news for you in 30 minutes. I'm Catherine Callaway and "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" begins right now.


ANNOUNCER: Next on "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" -- it was the jaw- dropping flash seen around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this whole blow-up is just -- it was sort of a shock to her.

ANNOUNCER: With a new album due out Tuesday, could this be her last act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a moment to ruin it.

ANNOUNCER: She grew up in the shadow of her famous Jackson brothers, had a role on a TV sitcom, but then took control of her own life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wanted to just break away from the whole Jackson machine.

ANNOUNCER: A 30-year career laden with triumphs, personal heartbreaks and a shocking secret.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she's got a lot of very loyal friends because nobody knew.

ANNOUNCER: From girl next door to the center of a firestorm, Janet Jackson.

Then, he went directly from high school to super stardom.


ANNOUNCER: A basketball player with a squeaky clean image. His talent made him a NBA icon and millions of dollars in endorsements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's an immensely gifted basketball player. He is driven to be the best.

ANNOUNCER: Now he faces charges in Colorado which could put him in prison for life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The defendant was charged with one count of sexual assault.

BRYANT: I'm innocent.

ANNOUNCER: From the basketball court to a criminal court, the private life of Kobe Bryant. Their stories and more now on "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS."


PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Janet Jackson's half-time performance at the Super Bowl shocked millions. And touched off a storm of controversy over indecent and America's airwaves. It's a far cry from the innocent image her fans first came to know, but the sultry singer has been a master of reinventing herself throughout her career. Now with a new album on the way, she faces new scrutiny and suspicion. Here's Kyra Phillips.


JANET JACKSON: No, my first name isn't baby, it's Janet. Ms. Jackson.

KRYA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's the pop music diva used to being the center of attention. Whether it's her steamy stage acts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She just kind has this shy mannerism. You see her on stage and it's a whole completely different thing.

PHILLIPS: Provocative music videos like "What is It Going to Be" with rapper Busta Rhymes.

JACKSON: What's it going to be.

BUSTA RHYMES, RAPPER: For me or you.

JACKSON: And you and me. MISSY ELLIOTT, RECORDING ARTIST: Between her and Michael, I have watched all my life and made my videos the way I made them because I felt like their videos were always taken to the edge.

PHILLIPS: On a risque album and magazine covers, Janet Jackson the singer who evolved from the cute, chubby little Jackson sister to the chiseled, sexy pop star has always known how to stir an audience with songs like "Nasty."

JACKSON: Who is that making nasty songs.

PHILLIPS: So why did one more titillating Janet Jackson stage show generate so much controversy?

PETER CASTOR. ASST. MANAGING EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: The sacrosanct moment of a Super Bowl is what people freaked out about. It is sort of like going to church and what she did was a little too naughty and a little too self serving in the eyes of many.

PHILLIPS: "Ebony" magazine writer Lynn Norman sat down with Janet just days after the Super Bowl.

LYNN NORMENT, WRITER, "EBONY" MAGAZINE: She said, you know, Lynn, I never experienced anything like this before. Other people in my family have had such media experience. She said, this is the first time for me. She's always been considered, you know, the kind of quiet one. No trouble. No major controversy. And this whole blow-up is just -- it was sort of a shock to her.

PHILLIPS: The Super Bowl show made Janet front page news, a spot that had been occupied by her brother Michael, as he faces an upcoming trial on child molestation charges. But 37-year-old Jackson now the impetus for an FCC investigation on television and decency has not always been in the spotlight. Janet Damita Jo Jackson grew up the youngest of nine kids to Joseph and Catherine in one of the most famous families in show biz. Janet's older brothers had become pre- teen idols making history as the Jackson 5. With smash hits like "ABC."


PHILLIPS: Her 15-year-old brother Michael had begun to make waves as a solo artist with his debut album "Got to be There," When 7-year-old Janet joined the family act for its Las Vegas review.

JANET JACKSON: That's right. I'm Janet Jackson and nothing goes until I say it goes. Okay. Go.

JANET JACKSON: I remember being very nervous and Randy was hugging me and going, Janet, it is okay. It's all right. You're going to do fine. I'm like, I don't know, I don't know if I want to go out.

PHILLIPS: But Joe Jackson insisted his daughter stay on stage.

J. RANDY TARABORRELLI, BIOGRAPHER: Janet was definitely pushed into the business. There's no -- you know, there's no disagreement about the fact that Janet really never wanted to be a singer. She was sort of pushed ahead by, you know, this sort of flow of success that the family was having.


TITO: Yes.

PHILLIPS: Janet continued to entertain on TV specials with her brothers but she made her way into the public eye through acting. When Janet was 10 years old, she was hand picked by TV mogul Norman Lear for a role on the popular sitcom "Good Times."

JANET JACKSON: I'm going to miss you all so much.

TARABORRELLI: She was so good as Penny in the show "Good Times" that anybody who was watching at that point realized that this was a real star in the making. She definitely had something that the other Jackson's didn't have.

PHILLIPS: More acting roles followed. She played the girlfriend of teen actor Todd Bridges to bridges on "Different Strokes."

JANET JACKSON: I better go before we get in trouble.

PHILLIPS: And later took part in the TV series "Fame."

JANET JACKSON: You want me to back off, fine. I'll back off. But I am telling you one thing some day you're going to come running after me.

PHILLIPS: The 16-year-old had become a successful young actress but at the urging of her father, she left the small screen for the recording studio. Her solo debut came with 1982's "Janet Jackson." The album bombed. In 1984, she tried again with her second record "Dream Street." Despite her famous musical roots, 18-year-old Janet barely got noticed. She

TARABORRELLI: She didn't really sound like she could sing. Exactly. It was more of a sound rather than a voice. But the thing she had going for her was that she was a Jackson and she was Michael Jackson's sister.

PHILLIPS: Janet would soon make a decision that would bring her out of the shadow of her famous brother Michael and into her own spotlight. In 1984, 18-year-old Janet left home and eloped with pop singer James Debarge.

CASTOR: She was in the grip of her family, her father especially. And she wanted to just break away from the whole Jackson machine, and one way of doing that was to just start a life with some other person.

PHILLIPS: But Janet's parents overruled that marriage and it was annulled less than a year later. Janet had had enough of the Jackson stronghold. When we return, Janet leaves home, taking control of her own music and life.

And later, Janet shocks fans with a long-kept secret.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think about how hard of a secret that would be for people to keep.


ZAHN: Janet Jackson leaves the girl next door behind when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.

But first, we catch up with the star of Jackson's very first TV series in this week's "Where Are They Now?".


JANET JACKSON: I'm going to miss you all so much.

ANNOUNCER: By the time Janet Jackson had joined the cast of "Good Times" in 1977 the show had already been a hit for three years thanks to the antics of comedian Jimmy "JJ" Walker. Walker soared into history and pop culture stardom with what would become his trademark phrase.


ANNOUNCER: So where is Jimmy "JJ" Walker now? After several failed television series in the early '80s, Jimmy Walker resumed his comedy act. The Bronx native now tours the country, performing stand- up more than 40 weeks out of the year. Walker has also made frequent guest appearances on TV shows such as "Politically Incorrect" with Bill Maher. We'll be right back.




JANET JACKSON: What have you done for me lately.

PHILLIPS: when 19-year-old Janet Jackson packed her backs for Minneapolis in 1985, little did she know that songs about personal liberation like "What Have You Done for me Lately" would not only make her a star, but would break her away from the shadow of her family. After two unsuccessful albums and a failed marriage, Janet Jackson was ready to turn around her life and music career. That chance came with well-known R&B producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

TERRY LEWIS, RECORD PRODUCER: I'll never forget the first meeting when Joe said to us, don't make my daughter sound like that Prince guy. Oh, no, Mr. Jackson. We would never do that.

PHILLIPS: Janet moved to Minneapolis to work with the producers on a new album. She was away from home, living in another city without the protection of her family. LEWIS: When we started "Control," Janet was just at that point having been through a marriage, changing some things in her life. She was starting to find her footing in life. And to actually feel like she was in control of her life.

PHILLIPS: Jam and Lewis had a reputation for creates hits as well as having a good time.

TARABORRELLI: These guys were, you know, were as wild and raucous and it was fun and, you know, sexual and edgy. And they were, you know, rock-n-roll people, musicians. And all of a sudden, Janet was in this whole different thing.

PHILLIPS: After months of working together in the studio, in 1986, Janet Jackson released "Control." It would be her breakthrough and break out album.

TOURS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "ROLLING STONE" MAGAZINE: "Control" was super hot. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis gave her like eight or nine hit records. I mean, everybody was listening to that album, I mean, control. Everything was hot from that record.

PHILLIPS: With its cutting-edge grooves and Paula Abdul choreographing her videos, "Control" shot straight to number one.

CASTOR: It made the world realize there was somebody other than Michael Jackson in that family who was not only supremely talented but also very, very successful.

TARABORRELLI: It was really edgy for Janet. None of the other people in the family had really dealt with in a public way who's in control here, me or Joseph? Janet was the first one to actually commit that to music. And when that came out, you know all of her siblings were looking at each other as if to say, wow, Joseph will be pissed off now.

JANET JACKSON: My first name ain't baby. It's Janet. Ms. Jackson.

PHILLIPS: It was a new Janet, with a new attitude. Her hit song "Nasty" showed that the baby of the Jackson clan could now take care of herself. As she put distance between herself and her family, Janet's career skyrocketed with another best selling album, 1989's "Rhythm Nation 1814."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to party.

PHILLIPS: "Rhythm Nation 1814" dominated the charts producing seven top ten hits, including the number one "Escapade."

JANET JACKSON: Let me take you on an escapade. Let's go.

PHILLIPS: In 1990, Janet made her debut world tour, playing in front of more than 2 million fans.


JIMMY JAM, RECORD PRODUCER: I looked at her and I said, after going out looking at the stage, looking at the crew, and the buses and the trucks and everything and I just said to her, I said, damn, I said, you're like, you know, you're not just Janet Jackson anymore. You're like Janet the corporation now.

PHILLIPS: Janet Jackson was a super star and after five years on her own, in 1990, she found love again with songwriter and long time friend Renay Elizondo.

JAM: Renay and her were a great couple. Very compatible, very much in love, very, you know, played off each other's words and finished each other's sentences.

PHILLIPS: But a well-hidden secret about the relationship would later shock Janet's friends and family. Janet rejoined Jam and Lewis for the 1993 album "Janet." The multi-platinum record earned her a Grammy and announced Janet's arrival as a provocative adult singer who was openly exploring her sexuality. Her music featured racy lyrics and songs like the erotic "Any Time, Anyplace."

JAM: She just was feeling great, looking great, in love. And all of those things came across on that record.

PHILLIPS: Janet had transformed from the young girl next door to a sexy, voluptuous woman.

NORMENT: I think earlier she did not feel she was beautiful. She had some serious image problems and she overcame that, then she started to feel good about herself, very confident, and started losing weight. It was just a major transformation.

PHILLIPS: Along with her new image, Janet's attitude about sex also changed.

CASTRO: She started talking about it in interviews and it was really weird to hear her say, you know, I really love sex. I just embrace it. But it really became a stamp in her career and in her own personal life that she became a sexual creature after that. Janet embraced her newfound sexuality posing topless on the cover of "Rolling Stone" magazine. After three successful albums, in 1993, the pop diva returned to her first love, acting. Costarring with the late rapper Tupac Shakur in John Singleton's urban drama "Poetic Justice." Janet was on top of her career. Back on screen and in love. But the happiness wouldn't last. When we return, Janet's dark mood.

JAM: We booked a session in L.A. and, you know, she wouldn't show up. And then I'd get a call saying she doesn't feel good today. She'll be there tomorrow.

PHILLIPS: And one night that spiraled out of control.

JAM: She told me to watch. You got to see the half time. You got to see the half time. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


PHILLIPS: By 1995, Janet Jackson was much more than just Michael's little sister.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah! 10 million records.

PHILLIPS: She was a certified platinum super star. A young diva in the midst of a makeover. With Janet, Miss Jackson had announced her arrival, racier, sexier, she was all grown up.

LEWIS: I think that as you grow up, you become a little more comfortable with yourself, mentally, sexually, and I think it's just all part of growth.

PHILLIPS: But beneath Janet's sexy new veneer, she was suffering from the weight of the Jackson name, the demands of her career and an explosive secret she had been hiding for years. Her pain needed an outlet and the result was the velvet rope and songs like "I Get Lonely."

JANET JACKSON: I get lonely.

JAM: there would be times when she would disappear for, you know, a week at a time. We'd book a session in L.A., and she wouldn't show up and I'd get a call saying, oh, she doesn't feel good today.

JANET JACKSON: Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

PHILLIPS: The "Velvet Rope" was difficult and very intimate. Hits like "Got Until it's Gone" explored Jackson's darker side, her emotional break down and the secret that shocked the world.

CASTOR: One of the most incredible entertainment stories that I can remember of the last ten years was the fact that Janet Jackson was married for ten years and no one knew it.

PHILLIPS: Janet Jackson had secretly married her long-time companion Renay Elizondo in 1991 and the startling nuptials were not truly revealed until Elizondo filed for divorce in May 2000.

JAM: I totally agreed with their approach towards it, because your life is so open to the -- that everybody knows everything. It is nice to have something that people don't know. And it's nice to have that one thing that's just between you and the person you love, because everything else is so out there.

JANET JACKSON: Come on, four, three, two, one.

PHILLIPS: If Janet was hurting after her divorce, she was certainly on the rebound a year later with the release of her Grammy winning CD "All For You."

JANET JACKSON: All for you.

PHILLIPS: All for you marked her escape from depression and gloom.

JANET JACKSON: Just a wonderful space to be in. The last album I did "Velvet Rope" was very difficult for me. Going through the depression, having that bout and just a lot of things going on in my life at that time.

PHILLIPS: And, true to form, Janet was as provocative as ever in her songs and on stage with erotic numbers like "Would You Mind" from her 2002 special "Live in Hawaii." After a racy tour, and the enormous success of "All For You" Janet Jackson took a much needed break in 2002 and all but vanished from the spotlight. Then, in an instant, Janet went from under the radar to over exposed, literally and figuratively. During a half-time performance with Justin Timberlake at this year's Super Bowl, Janet's right breast was revealed to some 90 million viewers.

TOURS: I was sitting alone in my apartment. Wait, wait. That must have been a pastie. There is now way Janet was naked on TV. There is no way.

PHILLIPS: Jackson and Timberlake immediately said her breast bearing was an accident, a wardrobe malfunction. But what they called an accident was an outrage to the FCC.

MICHAEL K. POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FCC: I thought it was outrageous and I was deeply disappointed as I sat there with my two children and I knew immediately this would cause outrage among the American people, which it did.

PHILLIPS: With her new CD "Damita Joe" set for release two just months after the Super Bowl, Jackson's half-time peep show didn't just raise debate on Capitol Hill.

TOURS: It's absolutely a P.R. stunt. If Janet Jackson wasn't coming out with a new album, shortly thereafter, then she wouldn't have done this.

JAMES: You can say this could be a publicity stunt but when it happened, it was no album to come out. And at that point, they leaked some kind of way of a single out some kind of way, but I don't think that has any bearing on the reasonings for doing anything.

PHILLIPS: After quickly releasing a videotaped apology, Janet kept quiet about her Super Bowl controversy except for one exclusive interview with "Ebony" magazine writer Lynn Norment.

NORMENT: She really was dismayed, concerned. But she said this too will pass and will be a stronger person afterwards. Everything happens for a reason. And that in the end, it will all work out okay.

PHILLIPS: And now, Janet has someone by her side to help her work things out -- record producer Germane Dupree. NORMENT: She has found her knight in shining armor in Germane Dupree. She seems very happy with him, very much in love. And during the interview, she just kind of said oh man. I'm in love. And, it's just refreshing to see that. It's very genuine.

PHILLIPS: A new love but many lingering questions. Has Janet seriously damaged her career?

TOURS: They say, you know, takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a moment to ruin it. And, she definitely tarnished her reputation. She definitely went too far but it's still possible to bring it back and to keep going.

PHILLIPS: the release of her album "Damita Joe" could be the test of how her career will weather the Super Bowl fallout.

LEWIS: Nobody's going to buy the record because of any sort of controversy or any sort of publicity or that. But at the end of the day, you got to like it when you hear it to buy it. And that's what translates into sales. Nothing else.

PHILLIPS: For a diva famous for reinvention, has one stunt become one costume change too many or is this just Janet Jackson's latest act?


ZAHN: Janet Jackson's new CD "Damita Joe" hits record stores on Tuesday.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, he's a basketball super star facing sexual assault charges and possibly life in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truest thing he ever said was that he's using basketball as now his escape. This is the only part of his little world that he can control.

ANNOUNCER: Kobe Bryant on the court and in court, when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.



CALLAWAY: Hello, everyone. I'm Katherine Callaway. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" will continue in a moment. But first, the top stories. It does look like Taiwan's opposition will get the recount that it has been calling for. President Chen Shui-bian now saying he will not stand in the way of an investigation into his re-election. He won by about 30,000 votes, 300,000 ballots were declared invalid. You are looking at a live picture there. As you can see, the thousands of protesters camped out outside the presidential offices since the election. So far, the protesters have been peaceful. And in southern Thailand, a bombing this morning at a popular tourist spot. About 30 people were wounded and police believe explosives on a motorcycle were set off by remote control. Officials now say that the prime suspects in the bombing are Muslim separatists. More news in 30 minutes. Now back to "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS."

ZAHN: Welcome back to "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS." Not long ago, Kobe Bryant was the NBA's shining star. Now, he is the game's most embattled player. It's been a critical week for Bryant who for the first time faced his accuser in court. Here's Sharon Collins.


SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kobe Bryant has been dividing his time between two courts over the past few months. The one he's most associated with and a court in Colorado where he stands accused of sexual assault. Two vastly different images of Bryant -- the young basketball phenom who jumped directly from high school to super stardom.

ROLAND LAZENBY, AUTHOR, "MAD GAME: "The NBA's Education of Kobe Bryant. His image was this incredibly driven, this incredibly hard working, somewhat arrogant but immensely talented young player who was determined to will his way to the top of the game.

COLLINS: An image of a family man who had avoided the spotlight off the court as much as he craved it on.

JACK MCCALLUM, SENIOR WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": He had a wife, had a presumably monogamous relationship, he had a 6-month-old daughter he doted over. He was everything the league could possibly want. You couldn't get any better than Kobe Bryant.

COLLINS: An image now being reassessed as Kobe Bryant stands trial.

KOBE BRYANT: I'm innocent.

LAZENBY: Kobe Bryant now has a very real flaw. At the very least, he's an adulterer. The courts may decide he's a rapist. And so, that requires a major, major readjustment on the part of the public.

COLLINS: Basketball has always been a part of Kobe Bryant's life. He was born in Philadelphia in 1978. His father, Joe Jellybean Bryant was also an NBA player. He spent eight years in the league before his basketball career took him and his family overseas. Kobe Bryant would spend eight years growing up in Italy.

BRYANT: Me and my sisters really enjoyed it. We met a lot of new people and we were able to pick up a lot of family values.

COLLINS: While Bryant's father was playing and coaching the game, Bryant was learning it and learning it well.

JOE BRYANT, FATHER: The thing that you propel yourself to get up on a horse in gymnastics, I mean, he propelled himself and dunk a basketball eight or nine years old. I said this kid is very creative. He's going to be something special.

BRYANT: I was eight years old playing with kids who ware 14 or 15 and they are a lot bigger than I was. And plus over there everybody's fundamentally and they are very savvy with the basketball. So I was able to pick up a lot on the little things.

COLLINS: Bryant's favorite basketball player was Magic Johnson. He would watch the Lakers' star on videotapes sent to him from the states by his grandparents.

LAZENBY: Kobe would spend hours playing and replaying the games. Stopping the tape. Studying, running things back. Looking at the game the way coaches look at it.

COLLINS: The Bryant family returned to Philadelphia shortly before Bryant began high school. The young basketball player soon became the focus of attention.

MCCALLUM: He had this kind of strange cultural background. He had been in Italy. He spoke Italian. He played the piano. And any time we can seize upon something else besides a typical story, which is a kid going outside and shooting hoops for 20 hours in an urban setting, as soon as we can latch on to that, we have something.

COLLINS: Power house college programs such as North Carolina and Duke recruited Bryant. He was named "USA Today's" high school player of year and he scored 1080 on his SATS.

KOBE: My parents basically said to me, Kobe, don't good on the books, you are not going to play basketball. It's that simple. I just kind of clicked. I said, hey, man. They are not taking basketball away from me.

TOM MCGOVERN, LOWER MARION ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: How do you keep a 17-year-old who has the whole world at his feet and everybody, asking more his autograph and surrounding him, how do you keep his feet on the ground? That's quite a feat. They have done a nice job of it. He's really a neat kid.

COLLINS: However, Bryant had another option besides college. Take the then unorthodox step of skipping it all together and going directly to the NBA.

BRYANT: It's a tough decision but it's a nice decision to have. Have fun with it. After the season, I'm going to sit down and just really think about it. What would it be like. Work through the pros and the cons.

J. BRYANT: That's a roller coaster for me. I would love to see him go to college, you know, as a parent. But I know that if he goes to college, he won't be in it too long.

COLLINS: In April 1996, Bryant announced his intentions.

BRYANT: I, Kobe Bryant, have decided to take my talents to ...


No. I have decided to skip college and take my talent to the NBA.

COLLINS: The spotlight on Bryant would only get brighter. He took pop star Brandy to his senior prom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the 13 pick in the 1996 NBA draft, the Charlotte Hornets select Kobe Bryant from Lower Marion High School in Pennsylvania.

COLLINS: Then in June 1996, Bryant was drafted and quickly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson's former team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to wear number 8.

COLLINS: Seventeen-year-old Kobe Bryant was about to put on the uniform of his idol and follow in his father's footsteps. He was a NBA player.

BRYANT: You know, I was in the airport on my way up here and people come up to me and say, hey, do you play basketball? And I said, yes, I play basketball. What team do you play for? I'm used to saying Lower Marion High School. So I'm like, well, I play for Lower Marion High - no, you know what, I'm a Los Angeles Laker.

COLLINS: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Kobe Bryant becomes a super star but doesn't make a lot of friends along the way.

MCCALLUM: Kobe has been a very questionable teammate.



COLLINS: At the tender age of just 17 years old, Kobe Bryant had gone directly from high school senior to the NBA.

LAZENBY: Kobe arrived with this attitude, this enthusiasm, this great belief in his destiny. Visions of stardom were in his eyes.

COLLINS: Bryant became the youngest player ever to appear in a NBA game. But spent much of his first season on the bench watching, learning and eager to play.

BRYANT: Just experience, you know, just going through something, trying something new. Wanting to, you know, wanting to do well and trying to perfect everything. It's a learning experience. You have to go through that. You have to learn. You have to see things from various aspects and various angles.

COLLINS: It was impossible to miss Bryant's brilliant potential. As a rookie, he won the NBA's slam-dunk contest. BRYANT: Growing up, you could (ph) be a fan of the slam dunk contest. Every kid I know wanted to be in the slam-dunk contest. I was enjoying growing up.

COLLINS: Bryant's popularity soared. The following season, fans voted him to start in the all-star game even though he wasn't a starter on his own team.

BRYANT: It's incredible. It's a dream come true. My whole body is numb. I don't know what I'm thinking.

COLLINS: Bryant was becoming a super star. He had endorsement deals with Adidas, Sprite and Spalding before he could legally drink. But adjusting to life in the NBA wasn't always easy for the teenager.

LAZENBY: As a young player, he would often drive over to UCLA and he would watch from his car the students there, he told me, wanting to see what their lives were like. Trying to get some sense of what it would have been like if he had gone to college. He is this young man who had chosen this very mature, professional life and yet, socially, it wasn't there for him.

COLLINS: Bryant developed a reputation as a player who didn't go out on the town and rarely socialized.

MCCALLUM: He was living in this fish bowl of Hollywood where if you show up somewhere, if you're playing, you know, guitar with Johnny Depp on Sunset Boulevard I mean, they're going to know it. By and large, Kobe did not.

BRYANT: What are you going to do? What are you going to do. We're all people here. We're just different people. You are going to Criticize me because I don't want to go to a bar? You know, criticize me because I don't want to go to a club? For what? What growth can I get from that?

COLLINS: Bryant also experienced some growing pains in trying to relate to teammates who were older and more seasoned.

LAZENBY: They would try to joke with him and they wanted to invite him out to do the things that he did and he had all these plans he wanted to achieve. He had all this work he wanted to do. And he wanted to have a relentless pursuit of his destiny. And the players around him were like, lighten up.

MCCALLUM: Kobe is a driven basketball player. Anybody that gets to that level, no matter what anybody in the public thinks about Michael Jordan, or Allen Iverson or even Shaquille dominating because of natural talent and things like that it's not true. Those guys are driven to perfect themselves. That was Kobe Bryant. He was consumed by basketball.

COLLINS: In 2000, 21-year-old Kobe Bryant reached the pinnacle of success. He and his Laker teammates beat the Indiana Pacers and became NBA champions. BRYANT: It' been a long time. It's been a long 12 years. We finally brought the championship back to where it belongs. And that's here in the city of Los Angeles. We're looking forward to coming back next year trying to do it again. Thank you for your support. We love you all. Thank you.

COLLINS: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Bryant's tension with his teammates grows. And a night in Colorado shatters his image.

MCCALLUM: Kobe had done not only a good job, but an exceptional job, seemingly of maturing under this spotlight. Now we're all going to take another look at that.



COLLINS: On basketball court, Kobe Bryant is nothing short of spectacular. It was such a joy to play the game. You know? Nothing matters on the basketball floor except, you know, except the game.

LAZENBY: Kobe has the length, he has this incredible speed. He has a long reach. He has this creativity in getting to the basket. He has this creativity in terms of dunking and finishing plays. And it is a package that the NBA sorely needs. He is not magic but he is a magician.

COLLINS: Bryant's passion for playing was matched by his obsession with improving. Following their 2000 championship season, Bryant wanted to play an even bigger role on the Lakers.

BRYANT: This season was frustrating because people want me to stay at that level that I played at last year. They wanted me just to remain the same. I can't do that. I just can't -- something is burning, is pushing me to improve, to find out more about this game.

COLLINS: However, that drive was seen by many of Bryant's teammates as selfishness.

MCCALLUM: There has been times when they felt he's taken too many shots, taken over the offense too much. The offense that he plays is suppose to be a very team-oriented thing. So it has taken Kobe -- he's had some rough seas on the way to figuring out how to be a great teammate.

COLLINS: Most notably, Bryant didn't get along the team's other megastar, Shaquille O'Neal. The pair had an uneasy relationship since both joined the Lakers in 1996. O'Neal as a veteran focused on winning a championship. Bryant as an eager rookie wanting to make his mark.

MCCALLUM: And Shaq was always sort of very direct about it, when people would ask him about it. Kobe won't give me the ball. Kobe was always a little bit more diplomatic or a little bit more elusive about what the problem was. COLLINS: Even after winning a title together, the Lakers were at times polarized. Bryant on one side. O'Neal and the rest of the team on the other.

LAZENBY: The age difference, Kobe's lack of a college background, the problems with a Laker offense, all of these things compounded to create a very isolationist position for Kobe.

COLLINS: Under head coach Phil Jackson, Bryant was slowly brought back into the fold.

LAZENBY: You're always going to have these kinds of conflicts in basketball. What's important is players learn to live them and to deal with them. And Kobe and Shaq learned that.

COLLINS: Bryant's personal life also underwent changes. Bryant met Vanessa Lane, a high school student, while on a video shoot and became engaged when Bryant was 21, Lane 18. The relationship caused a rift between Bryant and his family, reportedly due in part to the fact Vanessa is not African-American.

MCCALLUM: Joe denies that there is any sort of problem with ethnicity. That there's a hint that maybe they were dissatisfied he married so young and he married somebody so young. But the real secret of what that dissatisfaction is really yet to come out.

COLLINS: Bryant and Lane married in 2001 and had a daughter Natalia born in January 2003.

MCCALLUM: The perception was that when he was off the court he went home to Vanessa. And the one thing he would talk about kind of buoyantly was when she was pregnant with their baby, and he would -- he hated to talk about his personal life. I mean, his wife was really kept apart.

BRYANT: Privacy is something that suffered. You know, I'm a very private person. I like going out and, you know, having dinner with my wife. Sometimes you just want to go out and get a breath of fresh air, and go to Disneyland and walk around. And, you know, that suffered a lot.

COLLINS: However, Bryant's private life has been thrown completely into the open. On June 30th, 2003, Bryant traveled to Colorado where he was scheduled to undergo knee surgery. He checked into the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera just west of Vail, Colorado, where he met a 19-year-old hotel worker. The woman allegedly went to his room that evening and the following day, reported an alleged sexual assault. On July 4th, Bryant, the darling of Madison Avenue and the golden boy of NBA was booked on suspicion of felony sexual assault.

MCCALLUM: The idea that a 24-year-old basketball player super star would have sex outside of his marriage, if I'm supposed to be surprised at that, I just am not. But what surprised almost anybody, even Kobe's critics, were the adding on of something of a violent nature to it. LAZENBY: I said it's not possible. I said, you might as well have told me Bill Bradley has been charged with this or something, because it is a complete departure from his character.

COLLINS: After two weeks of investigation, Eagle County, Colorado, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert announced charges would be filed.

MARK HURLBERT, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, EAGLE COUNTY: It is alleged that he caused sexual penetration or intrusion and he caused submission of the victim through actual physical force.

COLLINS: Bryant quickly issued a statement admitting adultery but denying he had assaulted the woman. Later that evening, he and wife Vanessa appeared at a news conference. I'm innocent. You know? I didn't force her to do anything against her will. I'm innocent.

MCCALLUM: I saw a kid at last in a very unfamiliar situation. So I thought the emotion and the kind of apprehension that Kobe showed at the press conference was totally real.

COLLINS: In October, Bryant rejoined his Laker teammates and returned to the basketball court.

BRYANT: I have a job to do. This is my job. I am coming back to work. And, you know, my wife and my family and we have been dealing with this for a while now. And we are going to continue to deal with it and we are going to continue to fight through it. I'm just going to come back to work and do what I do.

COLLINS: Bryant's season has not been an easy one. Tensions with Shaquille O'Neal resurfaced early on.

MCCALLUM: Kobe and Shaq never been peaches or cream. But this was a different set of tensions coming into this season. Kobe's contract is up at the end of this year. And Shaq wanted him to proclaim I want to be a Laker eternally. I want to be on this team. And Kobe to this point just wouldn't do that.

COLLINS: Bryant has also missed games due to injury and due to court appearances in Colorado. However, when he's on the basketball court, he remains one of the NBA's brightest stars.

MCCALLUM: I don't think anyone has ever had more pressure on him, more of a microscope in a single season than Kobe Bryant. And he's really been the best player in the NBA since the all-star game. And that is, once again, a testament to this guy's super human focus and ability to concentrate when he's on the basketball court.

COLLINS: For the immediate future, Kobe Bryant will continue to divide his time between basketball and his legal troubles. While both outcomes remain uncertain, one thing is clear. The young super star who seemed almost too good to be true no longer does.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: Kobe Bryant's legal troubles certainly don't appear to be affecting his performance on the basketball court. Right after his pretrial hearing on Wednesday, the Laker star flew back to Los Angeles and scored a game high 36 points at Western Conference rivals the Sacramento Kings. That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

Coming up next week, he has turned firing people into a catch phrase and a hit reality show. We'll have a look at Donald Trump and "The Apprentice."

I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for being with us. Hope you will be back with us again next week.

And for more celebrity news, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.


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