Gianna Bryant always wanted to follow in her father Kobe Bryant’s footsteps.
And Bryant and others in the NBA saw much of the father’s spark and determination in his daughter.
Gianna, 13, and Bryant were among the victims of a helicopter crash that took the lives of all passengers and the pilot Sunday morning in Calabasas.
Bryant coached his daughter’s club team and would take them to watch other professional basketball teams. During games, he’d talk to them about certain plays and situations.
Gianna was quick to remind people that her father, who has three other daughters, didn’t need a son to continue the family’s basketball legacy, according to the revered former NBA star.
Bryant would send videos of his daughter’s basketball games to Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, Gianna’s godfather.
A 2019 viral video of Gianna’s basketball highlights showed her using moves she learned from her dad.
Bryant described his daughter as “something else” when she’s on the court.
She’s “hell-bent” on playing for Geno Auriemma at the University of Connecticut and one day for the WNBA, Bryant told The Times in 2019.
Sparks coach Derek Fisher, who won five titles with Bryant and the Lakers, said the former NBA superstar and Gianna “have similar demeanor and personality.”
On the morning of the crash, the father and daughter were believed to be en route to a Gianna’s basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks.
Gianna and her teammates were scheduled to play against Fresno Lady Heat at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy as part of the Amateur Athletic Union tournament, according The Fresno Bee newspaper.
Demetrius Porter, coach of the Fresno team, told The Fresno Bee that the tournament director said the game was canceled because of the crash.
“We walked into the gym and everyone was on their knees and praying,” Porter told The Fresno Bee. “(My girls) were crying and in disbelief. They were excited to play against Kobe Bryant’s daughter and take a picture with him and this tragic event happened.”