The University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team honored Gianna Bryant at a game Monday night, the day after she and her father Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash.
Gianna, who was 13 when she died, had aspired to play for the NCAA team, and attended several UConn Huskies games with her dad, who once said she was “hellbent” on attending the college.
In the wake of the tragic accident in Calabasas, California, that killed the pair and seven other people on Sunday, the UConn women’s team paid tribute to Gianna before their game against Team USA.
They set aside a No. 2 jersey ― the number Gianna wore ― on a courtside seat.
In August, Bryant had shared images of his daughter’s team, the Mambas, at a training session with some UConn players.
In a 2018 interview, Bryant said his daughter idolized Chicago Sky player Gabby Williams, who was drafted to the WNBA after attending UConn.
“My daughter loves Gabby Williams, absolutely loves Gabby, loves [all of them],” Bryant said, according to the Hartford Courant. “She watches their interviews, watches how they play and learns — not just in wins, but in tough losses, how they conduct themselves. It’s great, as a parent, to be able to see my daughter pull inspiration from them.”
Bryant was known for his vocal support of not only his daughter’s budding basketball prowess but also women’s leagues in the sport. The WNBA released a statement honoring him for his “passion for the WNBA and women’s basketball along with his passion for helping young girls and boys follow their dreams.”