Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were both killed in the Calabasas helicopter crash Sunday morning
Kobe Bryant accomplished many things in his life, but the one he may have been most proud of? Being a father to four daughters.
On Sunday, the NBA legend, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash. They are survived by Bryant’s wife Vanessa and their three daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Two days after the tragic accident, ESPN reporter Elle Duncan recalled on-air the time she met Bryant and the love he shared over being a “girl dad.”
“It’s likely you’re hearing many personal anecdotes about Kobe Bryant, so here’s mine,” Duncan began. “I met Kobe one time, backstage at an event for ESPN in New York and I saw him and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Kobe, I gotta get a picture, for the ‘gram.’ “
As a photo of Duncan and Bryant appeared on screen, Duncan said, “That’s the picture. I didn’t get it for a few minutes because as I approached him, he immediately commented on my rather large eight-month pregnant belly. ‘How are you? How close are you? What are you having?’ “
“‘A girl,’ I said, and then he high-fived me.” Duncan added. ” ‘Girls are the best.’ I asked him for advice on raising girls, seeing as he had three at the time. He said, ‘Just be grateful that you are being given that gift because girls are amazing.’ “
Duncan recalled that during the conversation she asked Bryant, who only had three daughters at the time, if he wanted to have more children.
“And he said that his wife Vanessa wanted to try again for a boy, but was jokingly concerned it would be a girl,” Duncan said. “I was like, ‘Four girls, are you joking? What would you think, how would you feel?’ And without hesitation, he said, ‘I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.’ “
“When it came to sports, he said that his oldest daughter was an accomplished volleyball player and that his youngest was a toddler, so TBD,” she said, before she choked up while adding, “But that middle one, he said ‘That middle one is a monster, she’s a beast. She is better than I was at her age, she’s got it.’ “
“That middle one, of course, was GiGi,” Duncan continued. “When I reflect on this tragedy and the half hour I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose that the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved most: Being a dad. Being a girl dad.”
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 and burst into flames 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.