In our culture and society, the relationship between fathers and daughters can be reduced to tropes and stereotypes. Think the out-of-touch, awkward Dad who fumbles through attempts at connecting with his proverbial moody and emotional teen daughter. Like ships crossing in the night, these two archetypes can’t seem to reach one another.
In reality of course, a father-daughter bond can be one of the sweetest, most nuanced and complex relationships, brimming with surprise and reward. And no one embodied the possibility of fulfilling love between dads and daughters more than Kobe Bryant, the proud father of four daughters.
Since the devastating passing of the basketball legend with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna by his side, celebrities and fans have been sharing their personal memories from time with Kobe. There’s been Jimmy Fallon tearfully describing a beer run with a then 17-year-old Kobe, and Scottie Pippen remembering Kobe’s “insatiable drive” and curiosity. But it was a female newscaster, ESPN reporter Elle Duncan, and her touching tribute to Kobe’s love of being a “girl dad” that swept social media to become a viral sensation.
I’m so moved by the outpouring of support behind my story about Kobe. And I love that #girldad is trending.. so for all those proud fathers who still have their girls to love on can you flood my timeline with pics of you and your flock. Honestly I need it as much as anyone rt now
— Elle Duncan (@elleduncanESPN) January 28, 2020
In a tearful video and a story which she also posted in written word to her Instagram, Duncan described having met Kobe Bryant one time during ESPN upfront in New York City, when she was towards the end of a pregnancy and very visibly showing. “He came over and started talking to me about my impending baby,” Duncan shared. “I asked if he had advice on raising girls— he said “Just be grateful you’ve been given that gift, girls are amazing.”
Duncan said Kobe then discussed what each of his three daughters was up to, describing daughter Gigi (who passed away with him in the helicopter crash) as a “beast” at basketball. When Duncan asked him how he’d feel if he and his wife Vanessa had another girl instead of a boy, he said, “WITHOUT hesitation,“I WOULD HAVE 5 MORE GIRLS IF I COULD.. I’m a girl dad. I love the challenge of raising women.”
The sweet concept of being a “girl dad” then began to trend on social media, with real-life fathers sharing their favorite parts about being #GirlDads.
The last time I remember John crying, aside from this week, was when Luna wrapped her little finger around his at the hospital when she was born. There really is something magical about girls and their dads. Thank you, @elleduncanESPN https://t.co/P4VL5Z8dC4 pic.twitter.com/hgWWB0DHcB
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) January 28, 2020
In addition to the many non-celeb dads who took part in the conversation, celebrities like Chrissy Teigan and Timbaland as well as ESPN colleagues of #GirlDad originator Elle Duncan, weighed in on the bond between fathers and daughters. If you need a pick-me-up, we suggest searching the Girl Dad hashtag on Twitter for some feel-good vibes. Seeing the amount of dads proudly saying they’re raising the next generation of “Mambacitas” adds some joy and positivity to the pain of this profound tragedy.