Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Women’s basketball legends mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna

Published on January 26, 2020

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Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna

Image courtesy USA Basketball

Update: Complete list of victims (Los Angeles Times)

Sunday afternoon, news sources confirmed the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna after a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area among fog and low clouds in the hills above Calabasas. Other victims of the crash: Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his daughter Alyssa and wife Keri; Mamba Sports Academy basketball coach Christina Mauser; mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester; and pilot Ara Zobayan.

According to the Los Angeles Times newspaper and ESPN, Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were on their way to a travel basketball game.

“No NBA player supported the WNBA or women’s college basketball more than Kobe,” Hall of Famer Rebecca Lobo wrote on Twitter. “He attended games, watched on tv, coached the next generation. We pray for his family.”

Bryant’s daughter was an up-and-coming basketball standout. His legacy includes 20 years as a star with the Los Angeles Lakers, five NBA championships among numerous other accomplishments. He also started the Mamba Sports Academy and coached his daughter’s youth basketball team. Sunday, a tournament was scheduled at the academy and Bryant was scheduled to coach that day.

“Everyone in there was in tears,” according to Curtis Haywood via USA Today. Haywood traveled there with an eighth-grade girls’ team from Dallas. “Everyone went to their court and had a moment of silence.” The tournament was canceled as news broke. Several women’s basketball games around the country began with moments of silence as the news spread.

Known also by his moniker, Black Mamba, Bryant was a frequent attendee at girl’s and women’s basketball games, from the AAU level to the WNBA. He fostered friendships with basketball icon Lisa Leslie, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma, Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, WNBA legend Tamika Catchings as well as several other WNBA players including Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi, who earned the nickname White Mamba, and Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd, dubbed the Gold Mamba.

Catchings and Bryant met during their childhoods and spent a lot of time together growing up as their fathers played overseas in Italy in the mid-1980s. Both fathers also spent time playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert

“The WNBA mourns the sudden and tragic loss of NBA Great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. Kobe’s support for the WNBA and women’s basketball along with his passion for helping young girls and boys follow their dreams made him a true legend for our sport. We admired him not just as a legendary basketball player, but as a father, a youth coach, and a role model for future generations of athletes.  On behalf of the WNBA, it is an incredibly sad day for all of us and we send our deepest condolences to his family and all those who mourn his passing.”

USA Basketball

“USA Basketball has lost a real champion. Women’s sports has lost one of their strongest advocates. Professional sports has lost a true legend who used his stature to make a difference in the world. Kobe viewed our women’s athletes as role models for his daughter Gigi, for whom we are also grieving. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Vanessa, the rest of his family and the families of those who also were lost today.”

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey

“Kobe Bryant was a basketball icon. His work ethic and his talent inspired so many, including many of our Lady Bears throughout the years. After his playing career ended we saw that he became an advocate for women’s basketball and female athletes everywhere. We were beginning to see his excitement and love for the game reignited through his daughters and the relationship he had with them. It is a sad day for basketball and he will be missed.”

The deaths also hit hard for LeBron James who gave tribute to the elder Bryant Saturday night after breaking Kobe’s NBA points record.


 

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