When it came to life after retirement, Kobe Bryant knew where his focus would go, to his then-three beautiful daughters, Natalia, Gianna, and Bianka.
After 20 years of being one of the best professional basketball players to ever play the game, Bryant retired in 2016 and so did the numbers he wore during his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers; numbers 8 and 24.
During his 20 years in the NBA, Bryant quickly rose to fame for his talent, his skills, and his unbelievable and unmatched work ethic. He retired from the sport a living legend and with a daughter who he knew would carry on his legacy as one of the best.
His 13-year-old daughter Gianna ‘Gigi’ Maria Bryant shared her father’s love of the game and she wore the Bryant name on the back of her jersey just as proudly as Kobe did. She wanted to be the person who carried on her father’s legacy.
In October 2018, Kobe was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live. During his interview, he was asked if Gigi wants to play in the WNBA, this is how the proud father responded:
“She does for sure. I mean, this kid, man. Dude, man, I’m telling you. The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans will come up to me and [Gigi] be standing next to me and they’d be like, ‘Hey, you gotta have a boy. You and V gotta have a boy, man. You gotta have someone carry on the tradition, the legacy.’ [Gigi’s] like, ‘Oi, I got this. We don’t need no boy for that. I got this.’ I’m like, ‘That’s right, yes you do. You got this.'”
And based on Bryant’s social media pages, it was evident that Gigi’s drive to be the best matched that of her dad’s. Just two weeks ago, Bryant shared a video of Gigi playing in one of her tournaments.
He wrote, “Gigi getting better every day.” He also shared a video of Gigi playing against her Mamba Academy teammate, Alyssa Altobelli, as he cheered them on from the stands.
He was constantly celebrating their success while simultaneously teaching Gigi and her teammates excellence.
And Bryant always found time for a coaching moment. Just last week, the father was caught on national television sitting courtside with Gigi as they discussed the fundamentals of the game.
Three years after he retired, Bryant and his wife of 19 years, Vanessa Bryant, welcomed their fourth child into the world on June 20, 2019. They named her Capri Kobe Bryant, affectionately referring to her as Koko for short.
Kobe Bryant and Daughter Gigi Die in Helicopter Crash on Way to Basketball Game
Then seven months later, Bryant, Gigi, and seven others got into a helicopter the morning of January 26, 2020, en route to a girls’ basketball game starring Gigi as a player and Bryant as the coach.
Using a helicopter as a means of travel was something Bryant did often, especially while playing for the LA Lakers. As People reports, he began taking helicopters to and from his games so that he could spend more time with his family.
“Traffic started getting really, really bad. And I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play because I was sitting in traffic. … I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time.”
He continued, “So that’s when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes and that’s when it started.”
Shortly after takeoff, the helicopter crashed into the hills of Calabasas, California. There were no survivors. Bryant was 41 years old and was barely finished with the first scene of his second act.
The other victims have been identified as Orange County baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa, and his wife Keri, assistant coach Christina Mauser, loving mom Sarah Chester, her daughter Payton Chester, and the pilot Ara Zobayan.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Bryant family, as well as the Altobelli, Mauser, Chester, and Zobayan families affected by this horrible tragedy.
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.