Gianna Bryant, the 13-year-old daughter of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, was an aspiring pro-basketball player before she and the NBA legend were killed in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday.
The duo were killed in the crash while reportedly en route to Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, according to multiple news outlets.
Gianna, the second of Kobe and his wife Vanessa’s four daughters, often posted videos of herself playing basketball on Instagram. She had been getting coached by her dad since he retired from the NBA in 2016.
The proud father talked affectionately of his daughter’s athletic prowess in a 2018 appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
When responding to a question about whether Gianna would want to play in the WNBA, Kobe said, “She does, for sure. ... The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans would come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me and they’ll be like, ’You’ve gotta have a boy, you and V gotta have a boy. You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy.′ She’s like, ‘Oy. I got this.’ I’m like, ‘That’s right. Yes, you do. You got this.’”
Later in the interview, Kobe discussed what it had been like to coach his daughter and her basketball team.
“We try to teach the kids what excellence looks like, right? And it’s not that — some of them may want to play in the WNBA, some of them may not — but we try to give them a foundation for the amount of work and preparation that it takes to be excellent in whatever it is that you choose to do,” he explained to Kimmel.
“So, we’re here playing basketball. We’re going to focus on the details. We’re going to learn the basics, we’re going to learn the fundamentals. We’re going to do those things over and over. And hopefully it’s something that they can apply to other areas in their life.”
While walking through the Staples Center, the Lakers’ home arena, in 2018, Kobe was heard telling NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller that Gianna was “hellbent on [playing basketball at] UConn.”
Kobe and Gianna went viral at the end of 2019 after being spotted courtside at an NBA game, talking animatedly about the workings of the sport. The adorable moment sent fans into a tizzy and was widely shared on social media on Sunday amid reports that the two had died.
Kobe Bryant had previously made comments about wanting a son, telling Ellen DeGeneres in 2019 that he loved “my princesses” but “would go for a solid starting five,” quipping that a fifth child would give him his own “internal basketball team.”
Kobe and Gianna are survived by wife and mom Vanessa and daughters and sisters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.