Kobe Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who died alongside her father in the helicopter crash that claimed the life of the NBA legend, had shown signs that she could further her father’s glittering basketball legacy.
Her proud father once said the second-born of the Los Angeles Lakers star’s four daughters with wife Vanessa was “something else” on the basketball court.
Bryant’s eldest daughter, 17-year-old Natalia, prefers volleyball, Bianka is only three and Capri was only born last year.
So the 41-year-old NBA great’s basketball hopes were invested in Gianna. “It’s a trip to see her move and the expressions she makes. It’s a trip how genetics work,” Bryant told US chat show host Jimmy Kimmel in 2018.
“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 (Gianna) is like, ‘I got this’. I’m like, ‘that’s right’,” he went on. “Yes, you do, you got this.”
Gianna’s passion for basketball meant she was often pictured sitting alongside her father at games, watching his beloved Lakers at the Staples Center or the WNBA team Los Angeles Sparks.
She often worked out with her father in the gymnasium of the family’s villa in Newport Beach and he took pride in coaching her high school team when his schedule permitted.
Gianna was on the helicopter that crashed because she was travelling to a tournament in the Los Angeles suburbs to play for her team, called the Mamba Team, after one of her father’s nicknames.
One of her teammates was also on board the helicopter and was also among the dead.
Gianna’s future had already been mapped out – her heart was set on going to Connecticut, the most prestigious women’s basketball program in the US.
And of course, she had introductions that other young girls players could only dream of – her father’s former agent Rob Pelinka introduced her to basketball stars and coaches.
Derek Fisher, a Lakers teammate of her father and now coach of the WNBA Sparks, had noticed that Kobe’s steely will to win had rubbed off on Gianna. “They have the similar demeanor and personality,” Fisher said.