On Sunday (January 26), NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Marie Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. They were reportedly en-route to Gianna's travel basketball game, along with her teammate Alyssa Altobelli and her parents, Keri and John Altobelli, and assistant basketball coach Christina Mauser, when the helicopter went down. There were no survivors.
Shortly after news of the tragic accident broke, tributes started pouring in on social media. One resurfaced clip from Kobe's 2018 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! where the record-breaking athlete gushed about Gianna—also known as Gigi—and her love of basketball went viral. In the now heartbreaking clip, Kobe told Jimmy Kimmel that fans often come up to him to tell him he and his wife Vanessa Bryant need to have a son so somebody can carry on his legacy. Gigi, a talented basketball player in her own right, had no problem setting those fans straight.
"The best thing that happens is when we go out, and fans will come up to me and she'll be standing next to me, and they'll be like 'You gotta have a boy, man. You and [Vanessa] gotta have a boy. Have somebody carry on the tradition, the legacy,'" Kobe recalled. "And she's like, 'Oy! I got this! You don't need no boy for that, I got this.' I'm like, 'That's right, yes you do. You got this.'"
Following Kobe's retirement from professional basketball back in 2016, he admitted he stopped attending NBA games and didn't watch them at home, either. That changed when Gigi started getting into the sport herself. “Before Gigi got into basketball, I hardly watched it, but now that she’s into basketball, we watch every night,” Bryant told former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson in a recent interview.
Bryant and Gigi started making regular appearances on Lakers games together, too. The father-daughter duo were often caught breaking down plays together on the sidelines. “We just had so much fun because it was the first time I was seeing the game through her eyes,” Kobe said. “It wasn’t me sitting there as an athlete or a player or something like that. … It was her — she was having such a good time.”
Kobe coached Gigi's AAU basketball team, as well, and would often share videos of her playing on social media. The budding basketball star hoped to one day play in the WNBA. Kobe and Gigi leave behind their wife and mother, Vanessa, and three daughters and siblings, 17-year-old Natalia, 3-year-old Bianka and 9 month old Capri.