This situation with Kobe Bryant is undoubtedly one of those where the more information you find out, the more gut-wrenching the situation becomes.
When news broke of Bryant’s tragic passing in a helicopter crash, it was reported by TMZ there was no immediate indication that any of his daughters were on board. As the facts became more apparent, it turned out, one of his daughters was with him in the copter, making an already tough situation to accept, even more difficult for everyone to deal with.
Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant was Kobe’s second oldest of four children, all girls. Her older sister Natalia was more into volleyball, and the younger two were too young at ages three and less than a year to have determined what they really wanted to do.
But there was no doubt, Gianni at 13 had made her decision, she was going to be like her dad.
University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma recalled when Kobe brought Gianna to a UConn Women’s game a couple years ago. He detailed how Gianna was so enamored by the program, that if she could, Ginna would have stayed.
At the tender age of 13, she considered attending UConn and playing basketball there, which would have been a dream come true.
UConn and USA Basketball had a scrimmage Monday night (Jan.27), and the teams both remembered Kobe and Gianna. In a touching tribute to Gianna, the Huskies placed a No. 2 UConn jersey with flowers on the bench honoring Gigi, who wore number the number on her youth teams.
Geno talked to ESPN a bit about the interactions he had with Kobe and Gianna when they came to that game a couple years ago.
“You could just see the look in her eyes. She was so excited, that’s what she aspired to be.”
Gigi was visibly starstruck by meeting the players on UConn’s women’s team, and in turn, they were equally in awe by meeting her father.
“When she came up here on campus, if she could have stayed, I think she would have stayed,” said Geno Auriemma.
This is just one of the many tributes that are likely to happen for Kobe and Gianna in the coming days, weeks, and months as we remember the life and legacy of Kobe Bean Bryant and his basketball-loving daughter, Gianna Bryant aka Mambacita.
Photo: Hartford Courant / Getty