Vanessa Bryant Talks 'Elevating' Playing Field for Girls in Sports in Honor of Kobe and Gianna

Vanessa Bryant says she and late husband Kobe Bryant's kids "will always fight" to "provide young girls with opportunities to showcase their talents"

Vanessa Laine Bryant, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, Natalia Diamante Bryant and Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant
Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant with two of their daughters, Natalia and Gianna, in 2018. Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Vanessa Bryant is continuing to advocate for girls in sports, two years after the death of Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna.

The mother of four, 39, spoke about her late husband and daughter on Tuesday at the third annual Sports Power Brunch Presented by Champion in Los Angeles.

While giving her acceptance speech as she was honored with the Be Your Own Champion Award for her work with her Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, Vanessa said, "As a mother of four strong girls, I care deeply about not only leveling the playing field for girls, but elevating it."

"I want to instill in our young people that girls are just as good as boys, and oftentimes better," she continued, per ABC 7 and BadCulture TV.

"I think it's important to elevate the way both girls and boys view each other as teammates versus competitors at a young age."

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Gianna Bryant and her father, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, attend the WNBA All-Star Game 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Gianna and Kobe Bryant in 2019. Ethan Miller/Getty

In her speech, Vanessa also spoke about how young athletes, regardless of gender, play on the same teams and "run drills together" at her foundation's camps.

"If they're taught how to share common goals and compete together to achieve them, then those skills will not only help them grow as children but it will also help them grow in business and future relationships as adults," she explained.

Her goal, Vanessa said, is "to provide young girls with opportunities to showcase their talents and to dominate in their fields."

"It was important to Kobe, it was exemplified by Gigi and it is something for which Natalia, Bianka, Capri and I will always fight for," she added, shouting out the couple's three other daughters.

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On Jan. 26, 2020, Vanessa lost both her husband and teenage daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash that also killed seven others. Kobe was 41 and Gianna was 13 at the time of their deaths.

Vanessa opened up about life after loss in an interview with PEOPLE in March 2021, admitting at the time, "I can't say that I'm strong every day. I can't say that there aren't days when I feel like I can't survive to the next."

She explained that she's motivated by her daughters — Natalia, 19, Bianka, 5, and Capri, 2, all of whom she shared with Kobe — to keep going.

"This pain is unimaginable [but] you just have to get up and push forward," she said. "Lying in bed crying isn't going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again. But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that's what I do."

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