Giana "Gigi" Bryant's father had been nurturing her talent and saw the same dream for her, of becoming a legendary basketball player.
Kobe Bryant, 41, a legendary basketball player, had another legend in the making at home. His daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, 13, nurtured hopes of one day playing for Geno Auriemma at UConn and the WNBA. A dream, that his father wanted for her, and nurtured her talent. However, both of their dreams' were dashed when the Los Angeles Lakers legend and his teenage daughter died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020.
Young Gigi Bryant was actually on her way to basketball practice at the Mamba Academy in nearby Thousand Oaks, California at the time of the crash, according to EOnline. Her father had been coaching her team after retiring. In October 2018, during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kobe spoke about teaching her team.
"They're doing well...they've been playing for like a year and a half," Kobe told host Jimmy Kimmel. "They don't have seasons, it's crazy. They just have tournaments like every weekend."
When he has was asked if his daughter wants to play at the WNBA, Kobe replied, "She does for sure." "This kid, man," Kobe said with admiration in his voice. "That best thing that happens is, when we go out, and fans will come out to me and she'll be standing next to me and they'll be like, 'You gotta have a boy, you and V gotta have a boy, man. You gotta have somebody carry on your tradition, the legacy.' In response, Gigi would say, 'I got this.'"
A dad of four daughters, the youngest of whom was only seven months old at the time of accident, Bryant had told Kimmel that he loved his girls. "I love having girls, I love it, they're awesome," he had said. The dreams of this father-daughter duo remain unfinished but her basketball academy honored her by retiring her jersey no.2 recently, an event that was attended by her mother, Vanessa Bryant.
"My Gianna. God I miss you," Vanessa wrote on Instagram. "I’ve been so lucky to have woken up to see your gorgeous face and amazing smile for 13 years. Wish it would’ve been until my last breath. Mommy loves you to the moon and back. Infinity plus 1. #2 #Mambacita #GigiBryant."
Vanessa shared multiple videos of the event that could only have broken her heart further after dealing with the double family tragedy. At the ceremony, Gigi's former coach spoke about her force and sportsmanship. "No matter who we were playing, she was gonna force her will and help us find a way to win. And she did just that. She willed us to the finals and got her teammates to compete at a very high level," Gianna's former coach said, according to ETOnline.
"She was the heart and soul of this team and her competitive nature was infectious."
The coach shared a story about the 13-year-old. A few weeks ago, while the school's 8th grade boys team had been playing a rival school, Gigi had offered to play on the boys' team to help their game. "The fact is, Gigi could have played with those boys. She could have helped them win some games. She was definitely able to hold her own at that level," he said, adding that she was "one of the fiercest competitors I've ever seen."
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bryant family, who are going through a very trying time in their lives. "My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri," Vanessa had said in an Instagram post.