Gianna told Young how much she loved watching him play …

Gianna told Young how much she loved watching him play and how big of a fan she was of the Hawks’ point guard. Young told her he made it a point to watch her highlights on YouTube and Twitter. She admired Young so much that she wanted to train how he trains. It didn’t matter that her father was one of the best basketball players of all time; she wanted to be like Young. So, Gianna started training with Alex Bazzell, Young’s trainer during the offseason, in addition to her lessons from dad. Young went to one of Bryant’s camps while he was in high school. But Young’s relationship with Kobe only started blossoming in the past two years as Gianna started idolizing Young.

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Saturday was the final time Young spoke to Kobe and Gianna. A source told The Athletic prior to the Hawks’ game against the Washington Wizards on Sunday night that Kobe and Gianna FaceTimed with Young on Saturday to congratulate him for being named a starter in the All-Star Game. Young didn’t want to divulge all of the details of their conversation but did confirm that he spoke with the father-daughter duo the day before they tragically died, alongside seven others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“One of the last conversations we had, man, he was just telling me how he’s seen my game progress,” Young said before he paused for eight seconds as he choked up. “He was just happy for me. He was saying how proud he was of me and how he wants to continue seeing me be a role model for kids growing up and just for Gigi and all of the kids looking up to me and continue to inspire these kids and continue to play my heart out. That was one of the last things he said to me.”

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As Gigi grew into a young teenager, her love for basketball transcended watching her dad. She began playing competitive ball year-round, with her father helping to coach her team. During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel’s television show recently, Kobe said of Gigi that she “for sure” wanted to play in the WNBA someday. “The best thing that happens is when we go out and she’ll be standing next to me and fans will come up to me like ‘Hey, you gotta have a boy, you and (Vanessa) gotta have a boy — somebody to carry on the legacy and the tradition’ and (Gigi) will be like ‘Oy, I got this. We don’t need a boy for that. I got this!'”
Rick Fox: Kobe and Gianna may your souls and the souls of the others who were with you Rest In Peace. My condolences and prayers go out to Kobe’s wife Vanessa, his daughters and the Bryant Family. I Love You Kobe and will miss you dearly.
Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak released the following statement on the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna: “I’m deeply saddened and shocked by today’s tragic news of the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. I had the privilege of witnessing up close, from start to finish, Kobe’s remarkable 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. His accomplishments were truly extraordinary – a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist and NBA MVP – and he will be remembered as one of the game’s all-time greats.”
Pat Riley: Pat Riley statement: "Kobe Bryant was a Godsend to this world; not just to the NBA, but to all those who hold dear and cherish family, friends and faith. Today I mourn the tremendous loss of Kobe, his daughter, Gianna, and the other passengers. The Lord will bless Vanessa, the entire Bryant family, and all of those who lost their most precious loved ones today.”
Thaddeus Young: I'm so sad right now! Not Kobe and Gigi! This is so tragic! Tomorrow isn't promised by any means! One of the many reasons why I kiss and hug my wife and kids everyday I'm home and before walking out the door. #RIPKobeBryant
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Kobe Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent.
Kobe's daughter Gianna Maria Onore -- aka GiGi -- was also on board the helicopter and died in the crash ... reps for Kobe tell TMZ Sports. She was 13.We're told they were on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice when the crash occurred. The Academy is in nearby Thousand Oaks.
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September 25, 2022 | 7:41 pm EDT Update

Russell Westbrook: I don't need to feel wanted by the Lakers

Russell Westbrook was wearing a bucket hat, flip-flops and a smile inside the conference room in his Avenue of the Stars offices. Trade talks stalled, training camp on the cusp and Westbrook hardly had to consider the question: Do you feel wanted by the Los Angeles Lakers? “I don’t need to,” Westbrook told ESPN recently. “I need to just do my job. Whether I’m wanted or not doesn’t really matter. I think the most important thing is that I show up for work and I do the job like I’ve always done it: Be professional and go out and play my ass off and compete.”
Westbrook spoke of getting back to work in the gym sooner in the past offseason than he has ever done in his career, about a summer full of conversations with Lakers coach Darvin Ham, about a “connection” and “trust” with Ham’s vision to utilize him in a way that impacts winning on these Lakers. Maybe that’s as a starter or maybe it’s off the bench. “I’m all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” Westbrook said. “I’m prepared for whatever comes my way.”
He sure isn’t here to tell you that his and the Lakers’ debacle of a season caused him to have to fight to keep his confidence. “No, I didn’t have to fight that,” Westbrook said. “I had to fight my response on how it affects the people close to me. To me, that was the important part. Confidence is not something I lack. Yes, there were times last season that I wanted to play better — that I should’ve played better — but my confidence never wavers. Having bad games is part of the NBA, and I understand that. The only thing it affected for me was the impact that it had on the people closest to me — my mom, dad, wife, brother, close friends. We’ve never had to deal with that as a family. That was the most difficult thing — being booed in the arena and having my kids there.”