While he had plenty ahead of him, most of the dreams in Kobe’s spectacular, complicated life were fulfilled; the same cannot be said for all victims of the helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. One of those that missed out was his daughter and proposed heir to his sporting legacy – Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant.
Kobe valued and cherished the lives of all of his daughters with an equal amount of obvious passion – any one of his teammates would be able to affirm that ‘half-hearted’ just wasn’t in his lexicon. But, of course, the high-profile connection between himself and Gianna that stands out is because of the shared interest that brought them together on the day of their tragic passing.
Like thousands of young girls across the globe, Gianna was in the process of growing up with the desire to perfect the craft of basketball. She turned up at every NBA and WNBA game she could – albeit with incredibly unique access – in order to get closer to her idols and learn from the best in the world.
Well, she had access to one of the true greats from birth and it showed. As well as her developing likeness to her father, Gianna was displaying unwavering confidence on the court and even showcasing familial traits in her jumpshot. But make no mistake, the idea was for her to forge her own legacy, the objective was for Gianna to write her own story. However likely they were, the dreams of UConn, WNBA and Olympian adventures will sadly never be recognized.
Everything about what happened at the weekend is impossibly and incomprehensibly sad, especially for the families left behind. Of everything, though, the loss of young lives is just about the hardest possible idea to stomach. Alongside Gianna, a legacy was waiting for her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester. The unwritten story goes beyond basketball; no college, no career, no travel, no first car, no first home and most sickeningly – no more family time.
Like almost everybody else in history, Gianna will never reach the heights of her father and the greats that she idolized. She might never have, but most painfully, she and her friends will never be able to try.
But all of the points, trophies and MVP awards in the world, these pale in comparison to what she, her father and her friends meant to those that knew them best.
Josh is a hoops, music and TV sitcom fanatic who survives primarily on copious amounts of pasta. He fell in love with basketball when his mum and dad showed him Larry Bird footage at a young age.