The NBA community is still in mourning after the loss of Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant, as well as his daughter Gigi Bryant. The Black Mamba, as he was known, died in a helicopter crash just outside Los Angeles back in January at the age of 41. Sadly, all nine passengers on the flight, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, perished in the tragic accident.
In honor of what would have been Gianna’s 14th birthday (May 1st), we’re taking a look back at the traits she shared with her father.
Right out of the gate, we’ll note the physical similarities between Kobe and Gigi Bryant. Most notably, their infectious smiles.
Simply put, there was no doubt that Gianna was of Kobe’s lineage, especially when she flashed a beaming grin. As her mother said during a remembrance speech for her daughter, Gianna’s laugh was “infectious, pure and genuine.”
Although Kobe was known as the one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, he was also a huge soccer fan, and so was his daughter. Having grown up in Italy, Kobe was well-versed in the game, and he taught it to GiGi.
Shortly after Bryant’s passing, tweets from soccer teams all over the globe began to flood the internet, including those from AC Milan, the team he supported in his youth.
Heartbreaking to look at photos of when Kobe Bryant brought his family and daughter Gianna's soccer team down to watch the @USWomens soccer team at Qualcomm Stadium. @AbbyWambach presented him with a jersey. pic.twitter.com/qPVGYaeAgQ
— K.C. Alfred (@KCAlfredPhoto) January 27, 2020
Kobe Bryant, who grew up in Italy, was a football and AC Milan fan.
— ESPN (@espn) January 28, 2020
Like her father, Gianna was an extremely bright individual. It’s a fairly well-known fact that Kobe spoke several languages, but so too did GiGi Bryant. In fact, she knew how to read, write and speak Mandarin Chinese. She also spoke Spanish.
Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, is of Mexican descent. According to several reports, she helped the family learn Spanish through watching various television programs.
“Watching novelas with Vanessa, my wife, as well as my mother-in-law,” explained the five-time NBA Champion when asked whether he spoke Spanish. He revealed that one of his favorites telenovelas was La Madrastra, with Mexican acting royalty Victoria Ruffo and César Évora, kept him glued to the TV.
Competitive Drive of Gigi Bryant and Kobe Bryant
Gianna also inherited her father’s strong competitive drive. As Kobe once said, Gigi was fiery, and wouldn’t back down from a challenge.
“It’s been a joy to watch her grow and to be there every day for that process,” Kobe said, via Good Morning America. “Her temperament is a lot like mine. She’s extremely competitive, very fiery, and backs down from no challenge … she’s a good mix of me and a good mix of her mama, so that makes her even more competitive than I am.”
With five championship rings, 11 All-NBA First Team selections and 18 All-Star nods, Kobe Bryant will be remembered as one of the greatest athletes to have ever dribbled a basketball. Gigi was young, but she too was on the path to greatness. In fact, several prominent Division 1 colleges were already interested in her services, including UConn.
Kobe and Gianna meant a lot to our program. Our thoughts are with the Bryant family.
Mamba Mentality will live on forever, but they are deeply missed. 💙 pic.twitter.com/4Ib96yFxgg
— UConn Women's Hoops (@UConnWBB) January 26, 2020
When people would say to Kobe, ‘You need a son to carry on your legacy,’ Gianna would often speak up, noting that she would take care of the family name.
“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans come up to me, and she’ll be standing next to me, and be like, ‘You gotta have a boy. You and V [his wife, Vanessa] gotta have a boy, man, and have somebody to carry on the tradition and the legacy’ and she’s like, ‘I got this’,” Kobe said during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2018.
“‘You don’t need a boy for this, I got this’,” Bryant continued of his daughter.
Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi Bryant were taken far too soon, but the Mamba Mentality they possessed will live on forever. They will be dearly missed.