Bryant was the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant. He attended Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he was recognized as the top high-school basketball player in the country. Upon graduation, he declared for the 1996 NBA draft and was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick; the Hornets then traded him to the Lakers. As a rookie, Bryant earned himself a reputation as a high-flyer and a fan favorite by winning the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, and he was named an All-Star by his second season. Despite a feud with teammate Shaquille O'Neal, the pair led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002. In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old hotel clerk. Criminal charges were brought and then dropped after the accuser refused to testify, with a civil suit later settled out of court. Bryant denied the assault charge but admitted to a sexual encounter, and issued a public apology, but the allegations were considered to have harmed his public profile and led to the loss of several sponsorships.