Kobe's stolen high school jersey located in China, returned to local authorities

ARDMORE, Pa. (WPVI) -- It had been missing for two years, but no more.

Devoted Kobe Bryant fan, 28-year-old Liu Zhe, discovered he had the NBA star's signed high school replica jersey in his possession.

Stolen from Lower Merion High School, the jersey ended up around the world in China after Zhe said he purchased it from a memorabilia dealer in October 2018.

Once realizing it was stolen, he posted on Instagram saying, "I really hope to give this back to Kobe when comes to China March 16."

"I was shocked and surprised, especially since it had been some years later, but once I heard the whole story behind it, I was very grateful," said Sean Hughes, principal of Lower Merion High School.

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Kobe's stolen high school jersey located in China as reported by Christie Ileto during Action News at 11 on March 13, 2019.

Zhe soon contacted basketball coaches at the school, and shipped the jersey back. He said he took inspiration from a signed photograph from Bryant who penned, "Dream big, live epic, mamba mentality."

"You get someone from another country, a good-hearted, good-souled person who realized this was taking place and contacted us instead of taking advantage of it," Hughes said.

"It's insane, it's really insane how they found it, especially tonight with the big game," said student Alexa Shapiro.

It was all students and parents were talking about the school's state championship playoff game.

"I'm glad they found the jersey and I hope they put it back in there because it deserves to be where it deserves to be," said Layeka Harris, whose son plays on the basketball team. "No one should have stolen it in the first place."

Police have still made no arrests in the theft case, but the jersey is in the hands of police. The school hopes to return the jersey to the trophy case in the coming weeks.
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