"I would have five more girls if I could. I'm a girl dad," the basketball player once said of being a father to all girls

The tragic death of Kobe Bryant is inspiring fathers everywhere to reflect on the major role of being a “girl dad” that was extremely meaningful to the pro athlete.

Just days after the basketball player, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, ESPN reporter Elle Duncan honored Bryant and his daughter in an emotional on-air broadcast, sharing the story of the “one time” she met the NBA star and how much he loved being a father to all girls.

Duncan, who teared up while sharing the memory, recalled that she was pregnant with a girl when she met the late Lakers star who excitedly told her that “girls are the best” and gushed, “I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”

The ESPN reporter’s tribute quickly went viral, starting the trend of #girldad on social media. Reflecting Bryant’s sweet words, many celebrity fathers shared their sentiments with touching family photos using the trending hashtag.

Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
Credit: Allen Berezovsky/Getty

Good Morning America co-anchor George Stephanopoulos shared a snap of his daughters, Elliott and Harper, on Twitter Wednesday with the caption “Nothing better than being a #girldad.”

Al Roker chimed in and shared a sweet selfie with his daughters, Leila and Courtney.

“Proud to be a #girldad,” the Today co-host wrote.

Fellow professional athletes also expressed gratitude over their relationships with their daughters.

Alex Rodriguez — who is father to daughters, Natasha, 15, and Ella, 11 — wrote on Twitter that he is “so proud and lucky to be a #GirlDad.”

Minnesota Vikings player Kyle Rudolph posted an adorable shot of his two little girls on social media, writing that he is “raising 2 #Mambacita’s #GirlDad,” referencing the trademark name Bryant filed for Gianna as a twist hist alter ego, “The Black Mamba.”

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson also posted silly shots with his daughter, Sienna Princess, adding the trending hashtag.

Timbaland also participated in the viral celebration, showing off “my baby Reign” in a series of photos on Twitter.

At the end of Duncan’s emotional tribute to Bryant, she told viewers the “only small source of comfort for me is knowing that [Kobe] died doing what he loved most: Being a dad. Being a girl dad.”

Kobe Bryant
Credit: Lenny Ignelzi/AP/Shutterstock

Bryant and Gianna, nicknamed “GiGi,” were on their way to a youth basketball game in Thousand Oaks with parents and players from the team when the helicopter crashed amid foggy conditions in Calabasas.

The crash also took the lives of Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, one of Gianna’s teammates on the Mamba Sports Academy girls basketball team; Christina Mauser, a girls basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Orange County and a coach for the Mamba Academy; John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa; and pilot Ara Zobayan of Huntington Beach.