Courtesy of Vanessa Bryant’s Instagram. Artist is @_vivalareina.
It is a ride some of us have done a hundred times: get in the car with dad, turn on some pre-game music, and listen to him reflect on your last game and say ways to improve during this game. It was a ride that Gianna Bryant had done a hundred times as well, but unfortunately, on January 26, 2020, Gigi took her last ride with her father, Kobe Bryant.
Early Sunday morning, Gianna boarded a helicopter with her father, two teammates, the teammate’s parents, a pilot, and her team’s assistant coach. The helicopter was flying to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks during a very foggy morning when their chopper had devastatingly crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.
Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant was born on May 1, 2006, in Orange County, California, to her father, Kobe Bryant, and her mother Vanessa Bryant. She is one of four daughters, Natalia Bryant, 17, Bianka Bryant, 3, and Capri Bryant, 7 months old.
She was a wonderful sister and could have been spotted playing many different sports during her lifetime including soccer, volleyball, and most importantly, basketball. This led Gianna’s father, Kobe, to start coaching Gianna and her team when she was 9 years old (brutamerica).
Gianna was a huge fan of basketball and had very big dreams of following in her father’s professional footsteps to one day play in the Women’s National Basketball Association. Kobe had even mentioned that Gianna was the “heir to [his] legacy”. Kobe had also mentioned that he never enjoyed watching basketball after he retired and only watched because his daughter, Gigi, had such a big passion for it.
Later last year, on December 30, 2019, Kobe inc., Kobe Bryant’s company, had filed a request to trademark the nickname “Mambacita”. This title comes from her father’s famous nickname, “The Black Mamba”, which became famous during Bryant’s jersey number change in 2006. Their goal was to trademark “Mambacita” and print the nickname on athletic clothing. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the request for this nickname is still imminent (people.com).
Gianna played on her father’s club team at Mamba Sports Academy, who regularly practiced at a local private college, Vanguard University (latimes.com), and according to Kobe’s Instagram, the girls would occasionally play games at Valencia High School in Placentia.
Bryant was loved by all and has been included in all of her father’s tributes and memorials. Many artists have painted murals of both Gianna and Kobe Bryant together. Many basketball teams have also paid tribute to the father-daughter duo, including the LA Lakers who saved courtside seats for the two and had a moment of silence for 24.2 seconds; 24 for Kobe’s jersey number, and 2 for Gianna’s jersey number. The University of Connecticut Huskies also honored Gigi by creating a special number 2 jersey on a seat with roses, remembering how she loved the Huskies and dreamed of attending a prestigious basketball school.
Along with the amazing things that her father accomplished during his lifetime, Gianna’s short life can teach young girls everywhere so much as well. Gianna was a young girl with so much passion for the game, and junior Paige Reddick (11) hopes “that Gigi’s legacy is always remembered by young girls everywhere because she really put so much hard work into her sport in order to carry on her father’s legacy.” While reflecting on the death of Gianna, we should live every day to the fullest and do everything with her “Mambacita Mentality”.