Will Smith and Bill Cosby may be two of the most recognizable Philadelphia celebrities, but the City of Brotherly Love is home to more than just the Fresh Prince and the man who put the life in Jell-O.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, the following stars found their roots in the city’s streets and schools. Whether they honed their acting, vocal, athletic or political skills here, the following homegrown celebrities are names you need to know, because you never know when they just might make a homecoming.
Kobe Bryant, 27 (right)
Los Angeles Lakers basketball player
-Graduated from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pa.
-Father Joe Bryant graduated from Philadelphia’s Bartram High School. He played basketball for three years at La Salle University before being drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 1975.
-Kobe’s father played for the NBA and played abroad until accepting an assistant basketball coach position at La Salle University in 1992. Kobe began high school at Lower Merion that year.
-Found stardom on the Lower Merion basketball team and was named the best high school player in America in 1995 by the Philadelphia Daily News.
-His senior year, Bryant led Lower Merion to the state basketball title and finished high school as the all-time leading scorer in Southeastern Pennsylvania history.
-Kobe is the 27th player to go straight from high school to the NBA.
-Played pick-up games at Temple, where he befriended Eddie Jones, one of the Owls’ starting guards.
Eve Jihan Jeffers, 27 (right)
Rap artist, actress, fashion designer
-Raised by mother and grandmother in West Philadelphia.
-Formed the all-female quintet EDGP while still in high school.
-After barely graduating from high school, Eve moved to the Bronx and worked as a table dancer for a month. Dr. Dre originally signed Eve to his label. She was later picked up as the first female artist to sign onto rapper DMX’s label, Ruff Ryders.
-Shot video for her single “Satisfaction” in Philadelphia in 2002. Video shows Eve wearing Sixers basketball gear and a shot of a Germantown Avenue street sign.
-Wore an Allen Iverson jersey in video “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” featuring Gwen Stefani.
-Runs clothing line, “Fetish,” and hosted Philadelphia Fashion Expo last October at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Seth Green, 32 (above)
-Attended Robert E. Lamberton High School on 7501 Woodbine Ave. in the Overbrook Park neighborhood.
-Played Dr. Evil’s son in the Austin Powers film series.
-Starred as Oz the werewolf in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the voice of Chris Griffin on the hit TV show Family Guy.
-Currently stars in the NBC sitcom Four Kings, which debuted in January.
Patricia Louise “Patti LaBelle” Holt, 61
-Singing talent was first noticed by a school teacher while singing in the West Philadelphia Beulah Baptist Church choir at 14 years old.
-Career took off after joining a group that would eventually become known as Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles. Their most famous song, “Lady Marmalade,” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 pop charts in 1975.
-Signed as a solo artist with Philadelphia International Records in 1981.
-Performed at the Philadelphia Live Aid event in 1985.
-On Dec. 4, 1990, LaBelle was inducted into Philadelphia’s Music Foundation Hall of Fame. She was honored with a bronze plaque on Philadelphia’s very own “Walk of Fame” on Broad and Pine streets.
Dwight “Beanie Sigel” Grant, 31 (above)
Rap artist, actor
-Born and raised in South Philadelphia.
-Sigel’s latest album, The B. Coming, was released last March while he was serving jail time for federal weapon and drug charges.
-Starred in the 2000 movie State Property and its sequel, released last April, about the life of a Philadelphia drug dealer. State Property is based in Philadelphia but was actually shot in Patterson, N.J.
-In 2003, Sigel faced separate charges of assault, gun-possession and attempted murder. According to police reports, Sigel allegedly fired at a man in front of West Philadelphia’s Pony Tail Go-Go Bar at 322 S. 52d Ave. in July 2003.
-Sigel’s stepfather, Samuel Derry, was found murdered in a Mount Airy neighborhood alleyway on Oct. 4, 2005. Police report he was shot to death and his remains set on fire.
-Jailed briefly in November of 2005 for failing to pay $27,000 in back child support payments.
-He most recently appeared before a Philadelphia judge in January for failure to pay $900 in child support payments.
Kevin Bacon, 48 (above)
-Attended the Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School for the Arts on 17th and Spring Garden streets.
-Attended Philadelphia’s Manning Street Actors Theatre.
-Biggest claim to fame came in 1984 as Ren McCormack in Footloose.
-Performs as one-half of the Bacon Brothers band with brother Michael Bacon. The duo has released three albums.
-Currently lives in New York City, but has been spotted dining at Fork restaurant on Market Street in Old City.
-Bacon’s father, Edmund Bacon, is considered to be one of the most influential planners of Philadelphia. He helped plan the Penn Center, The Gallery and Old City’s Society Hill luxury apartment complex.
Jeff Appelblatt can be reached at email@example.com.