How Kobe Bryant Sacrificed Sleep for Greatness

To Kobe Bryant the key to success was common sense: Wake up earlier and use more of the 24 hours that everyone is given in a day.

"I don't need too many hours of sleep. Man, I can go off three, four hours," said Kobe Bryant, in the middle of his career, speaking with Stephen A. Smith about his work and sleep habits.

Later in his career he altered these habits and said that he started to evolve by increasing his nightly sleep to six to eight hours. But there are countless "Kobe stories" told from people around the NBA about the unbelievable duration and intensity of the workouts that he would conduct at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning and then again and again throughout the day.

It has always been about the journey itself for Bryant. It's about the love for the process and for the mental and physical challenge that makes you better every single day.

Waking up at 4 a.m. is a challenge. Practicing two times a day, three times a day, is a challenge. But it all leads to growth.

"So that's why I do it," Bryant said.

Starting your day at 4:30 a.m. and fighting through the tiredness or sleeping in segments from 10 p.m. to midnight and then again from 4-6 a.m., as Bryant has done, might not be everyone's key to success. Maybe Kobe was built differently, maybe he's a "short sleeper," genetically engineered to function on less sleep. Maybe he was just that hungry.

Who knows?

What we do know is that this relentless journey ended with Bryant retiring as an all-time great, and his schedule and his lack of sleep was his edge, and it was how he separated himself little by little, day after day.

Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/Getty Images

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