IN PHOTOS: Remembering Kobe Bryant's Manila visits

MANILA, Philippines – He was one of the sports superstars loved by Filipinos. And Kobe Bryant always showed he had a soft spot for his Philippine fans in the many times he visited the country. 

The NBA legend first flew in Manila in 1998, just two years after he debuted in the NBA as a 17-year-old straight out of high school, and last visited in 2016, just months after he retired from the NBA. 

Check out some photos of Bryant's memorable trips here:

RISING HOTSHOT. A young Kobe Bryant scrimmages with Manila street kids on August 16, 1998 during his five-day goodwill tour swing.

Photo by Alex dela Rosa/AFP

BIG SHOT. Kobe Bryant, wearing a traditional barong Tagalog, hams it up with then Philippine President Joseph Estrada in a courtesy call on August 14, 1998 in Malacañang. Photo by Alex dela Rosa/AFP)

THRILLED. Filipino basketball fans wait for the arrival of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant in a public appearance during his one-day Manila visit on September 5, 2007.

Photo by Jay Directo/AFP

FAN BOY. A young Kobe Bryant fan holds up a figurine of the NBA superstar as supporters wait for his arrival at a Manila charity event on July 21, 2009.

Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

MENTOR. Kobe Bryant shows his wares in a basketball clinic during his Manila Asian Tour on July 21, 2009.

Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

ALL SMILES. A fan celebrates after Kobe Bryant gave him a shoe during his Manila visit on July 21, 2009.

Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

FAN FAVORITE. Basketball-crazy Filipinos show their love for Kobe Bryant during the Manila leg of his Asian tour on July 21, 2009.

Photo by Ted Aljbe/AFP

UAAP MOMENT. Kobe Bryant wears the FEU Tamaraws jersey during an exhibition game with Filipino collegiate and pro basketball stars on July 13, 2011.

Photo by Jay Directo/ AFP

TOP GUNS. Kobe Bryant acknowledges Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao during the Ultimate All-Star Weekend that gathered NBA superstars in Manila for an exhibition game on July 24, 2011.

Photo by Noel Celis/AFP

SHOWCASE. Kobe Bryant goes up to the basket during an exhibition game between NBA superstars and top Filipino players on July 24, 2011.

Photo by Noel Celis/AFP

UP CLOSE. Gloria Glorioso, a differently-abled fan of Kobe Bryant, gets emotional meeting the Lakers superstar following a press conference at a hotel in Manila on August 12, 2013.

Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

FAREWELL. Kobe Bryant last visited Manila on June 25, 2016, just months after he retired from the NBA.

Photo by Noel Celis/AFP

– Rappler.com