On January 26th, the world was shocked when NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter accident. As the world mourned, his wife of nearly 20 years, Vanessa Bryant, issued a statement expressing her grief and thanking people for their support.
“There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon.”
Since that tragic loss, Vanessa has been posting pictures, videos, and tributes to Kobe and Gigi on Instagram, sharing her memories with family, friends, and fans. On the two month anniversary of their death, Vanessa posted a video that featured Kobe talking about what it was like coaching Gigi’s basketball team. In the video, Kobe explains that Gigi was playing “every day” and he said it was a “joy to watch her grow.”
“[Her temperament] is a lot like mine. She’s competitive, very fiery and backs down from no challenge. She has a mixture – a good mix of me and a good mix of her mama. So that makes her even more competitive than I am.”
Kobe often spoke of Gianna’s love of the game and how she was following in his footsteps to her own basketball greatness. He told the New Yorker in 2014 that their level of dedication was could be difficult to handle at times.
“It’s a rough way to be. Because all you care about is that end result and winning. It’s hard for people to put themselves in that state of mind, because, as humans, we always want to have a safety net… When you put all your eggs in that one basket, it can be absolutely devastating.”
Gianna had WNBA aspirations, and Kobe was open about how he saw her as his legacy in the game. In a 2018 interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Kobe explained that people often told him he needed to have a son to carry on the Bryant legend, but he knew that Gianna was up for the challenge.
“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’s like, ‘Oy, I got this.’ I’m like that’s right. Yes, you do, you got this.”
Kobe and Gigi courtside breaking down the game 📋 pic.twitter.com/FxqSjVx6ew
— ESPN (@espn) December 22, 2019