GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Kobe Bufkin has taken his game to the next level this year — literally.
The star basketball player from Grand Rapids Christian High School hit the hardwood for the first time with the Michigan Wolverines on Wednesday. It’s a dream come true for himself and his family — not just to see him playing in college, but for him to be doing it in the maize and blue.
At five years old, Kobe was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.
"A football player," he answered.
As for what team?
The sport may be different, but the school stayed the same. His mom, Kimberly Camp, could not be happier.
“He looks amazing,” she told FOX `17, when asked how Kobe looks in the maize and blue.
Before the maize and blue, it was the black and blue. Kobe played his high school ball at Grand Rapids Christian, building quite the resume by the end of his career: 1,000 career points, 3x All-State, a 2018 District Championship and, as a senior, a McDonald’s All-American.
Kobe fell in love with the game of basketball at a young age, around 7 years old, which is only fitting for someone with the same name and initials as the late great Kobe Bryant.
While there's an obvious connection to the Black Mamba, Kimberly claims her son is not not named after him, at least directly.
“With Kobe being my favorite player, I always tell people, ‘If his name would have been George Bryant, I would not have named my son George,'" Kimberly told FOX 17. "I kind of compare it to that. But my son, Kobe, insists that he’s named after him.”
That’s a lot to live up to, but Kobe is well on his way. Everything is coming full circle in the process, too.
Kobe grew up in a Wolverine household. His family fell in love with the school during the Fab Five days in the early 90’s, and now Kobe himself is carrying out the tradition.
“He had to put aside the fact that he grew up a U of M fan and focus on what would be the best fit for him," Kimberly said. "It just so happened that it was Michigan, which just makes it that much better.”
Kobe stepped onto the court as a Wolverine for the first time during Michigan’s home opener Wednesday, wearing No. 2, with family and friends in attendance.
He played four minutes, missing his only field goal attempt.
In classic mom fashion, Kimberly said she was a bag of nerves all day. Still, she said it was a dream come true.
“I had tears in my eyes the whole game," she said. "No surprise.”
Kimberly was probably a bag of nerves once again Saturday. She traveled all the way to Washington, D.C. for Kobe’s second game against Prairie View.
This time, she had even more to cheer about. Kobe got into the scoring column for the first time in his young career, finishing with eight points, four rebounds and one assist in a Michigan win.