March 13 (UPI) -- A 28-year-old fan from China returned a stolen Kobe Bryant high school jersey to Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa., more than two years after it was taken from a display case.
The fan, Liu Zhe, said he bought the jersey online in October 2018 for $2,000, according to an ESPN report Wednesday. Zhe is a long-time follower of the ex-Lakers' career and has a collection of Bryant memorabilia.
According to ESPN, Zhe became suspicious of the No. 33 jersey and discovered its resemblance to the framed one that was stolen from the school in 2017 along with Lower Merion's 1996 PIAA Boys' Basketball 4-A State Championship trophy, Bryant's Parade All-American plaque, several game programs and five pairs of Kobe's Nike shoes.
Zhe hoped to return the jersey to Bryant in person when the former Los Angeles star visits Shenzhen, China, on Saturday. Bryant will announce the draw for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Instead, Zhe agreed to mail the jersey to Lower Merion after interacting with a representative for the school's team through Instagram. He didn't ask for compensation, according to ESPN.
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Really hope to give this jersey back to Kobe Bryant when he come to China on March 16，2019 @kobebryant @vanessabryant @espn @nba @lakers @marionhighschooltx @paniniamerica @oneluvkobe24 @nikezoomkobe @paniniauthentic @cbssports @cbsla @nbcsauthentic @abcnews @nbaontnt @foxsports @nbatv
The school received the jersey in the mail last week and gave it to the Lower Merion Police Department. The jersey was taken to a local memorabilia shop, and the authenticity of the item was confirmed. Police remain on the hunt for the other stolen items.
Bryant's No. 33 was retired at Lower Merion after he scored 2,883 points during his prep career from 1992 to 1996.
Bryant went to the NBA directly out of high school and became an 18-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion in 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.