Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird sat next to Bryant and Gigi at the WNBA All-Star Game last July in Las Vegas. The four-time Olympic gold medalist — at the game with girlfriend and U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe — was sidelined with a knee injury. They got a chance to chat with Bryant and Gigi while watching many of the best women’s basketball players in the world. “He just really wanted to expose Gigi to as much greatness as he could,” Bird said. “He wanted her to meet Megan, to meet me. I know he’s taken his whole family to Megan’s soccer games. He’s been very present in the WNBA. He was going on this journey with his daughter, and I think we could all feel that it was going somewhere special. For him as a father, for her as a future basketball player, for them in that father-daughter relationship.”
Gordon appeared close to tears as he spoke to reporters Sunday night. “It’s sad,” Gordon said. “Personally and selfishly, I don’t get to develop a relationship with him that I knew was going to be something special. It’s just sad for him and his family and Gigi (Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter) as well. I really don’t know what to say.”
Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, the 2016 MVP and WNBA champion, said Gigi was "symbolic of his legacy, and also the future of women's basketball." Gigi had become a big fan of 11-time national champion UConn, and she went to Huskies games with her father, including UConn's senior day in 2019 for Samuelson and Napheesa Collier. Samuelson said Bryant sent her a text after that game. "He recorded me walking out with my dad," Samuelson said. "He said he had to get that moment, because he knew he'd be a wreck if it was him."
However, Terry has also taken on a prominent role in coaching youth girls basketball and his daughters. He spoke on the broadcast about the impact Gianna Bryant had on them. “[Gianna] was a walking image [of Kobe Bryant]. I watched her shoot one of her last 3-point shots, it was right in front of me and it was the same body mannerisms. She had it, she embodied it and she was the same competitor,” Terry said. “It was funny. Before I came to work today, my youngest is in the driveway shooting baskets. My second-youngest now tells me she’s gonna now play basketball. And that’s because of GiGi. They don’t know Kobe. They know GiGi."
Kobe Bryant had already made plans for his daughter, Gianna -- AKA GiGi -- to follow in his legendary footsteps by filing to trademark her very own hoops nickname. TMZ Sports obtained the paperwork Kobe filed for "Mambacita" on Dec. 30, 2019. Of course, the name is both a tip of the hat to GiGi's father -- the Black Mamba -- and also to her own growing prowess on the hardcourt. According to the docs ... the plan was to put "Mambacita" on all sorts of sportswear -- shirts, shorts, hats, jerseys, sweatpants, sweatshirts and hoodies.
Trae Young fought back tears as he spoke about the last conversation he had with Kobe. He said Kobe told him he was proud of how much he's seen his game progress, and to continue to be a role model for kids growing up and for Gigi.
In our short conversations that day, we talked about Gianna and her love of basketball. We joked about how much more hectic our lives had gotten with the addition of more kids. His youngest daughter, Capri, was born last June, one month after my second son. When I chastised him for not coming around Lakers games more often, he said, “I’ve been busy chasing these four kids around.”
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.”
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.
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.
Clint Capela: Not into the debates. Each generation claims their 🐐. He was ours. RIP Kobe 🐐 and Gianna. Condolences to his wife and daughters 💔
Brad Turner: Jerry West on Kobe's death: "I want to go to bed and hope it’s a bad dream. It’s going to take a while for me to get over this one. I’m pretty good at getting over things because I understand how fragile life is. But Oh my God!. His daughter with him. My God!” This is not easy.”
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.”
Harrison Barnes: This is heartbreaking....can’t even put it into words....anyone that knows me knows how much Kobe means to me....blessed to have been able to call you a brother 🙏🏾 Rest in Power Mamba and Gigi. Praying for Vanessa, the kids and your whole family.
Magic Johnson: As I try to write this post, my mind is racing. I’m in disbelief and have been crying all morning over this devastating news that Kobe and his young daughter, Gigi have passed away in a helicopter crash. Cookie and I are heartbroken. pic.twitter.com/X2vF0M0a1u
Derek Fisher: Struggling to process what is now a reality. Kobe’s life after basketball was just beginning and his second act was going to be even greater. His legacy, Gigi’s legacy both will live on forever!
Jared Weiss: Celtics on Kobe: "There are no words that can convey the heartbreak the entire Celtics organization feels in the wake of the terrible loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. Kobe was one of the greatest talents and competitors to ever play basketball..."
Barack Obama: Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.
Shams Charania: The NBA has sent email to its employees confirming the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, @TheAthletic @Stadium has been told.
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.
August 7, 2022 | 4:31 pm EDT Update
Goran Dragic talked to the Slovenian press before Saturday’s prep game against Montenegro and explained his motivation about his return to the Slovenian national team. “I predict the semi-finals, but then anything is possible”, said a smiling Dragic, who is ready to defend the title he won together with a young Luka Doncic back in 2017. However, after five years things are different and Dragic understands it: “In my opinion, I will play a little less minutes, it will not be at that level. I don’t know how much I played, 36 minutes per game? Everything will depend on how I feel. The role will definitely be different. I was Batman, but now I’ll be Robin. The most important thing will be to make sure we have good chemistry and be a leader on the court and lift guys up when it’s most difficult. My role remains the same, Luka’s may have changed a bit more, but I believe that everyone has their own role in the national team and that there will be no problems. We all understand each other, we are one big team, and that’s why we can make a good result. That chemistry is what other teams don’t have.”
Dragic had also to convince the Chicago Bulls to let him play, something that was not ideal for them: “When I had a medical exam with Chicago and sat down with them, they said I’d rather not play. I said I’d rather and in the end it’s the player who decides. I had to go to Chicago, undergo a medical examination and everything else. When you go to a medical examination, you always wait for the results, because you never know what can happen”.
And Dragic knows that the Eurobasket will not be a walk in the park: “This will be my toughest championship so far. I think a lot of national teams have players from the NBA. I believe that we will have good chances. I did not return to the national team to play for fifth or sixth place. The desire is for a medal, but now, as I said, it is necessary to go step by step”.
Law Murray: For the first time since 2017, Norman Powell is playing today @DrewLeague for Hometown Favorites He is the first current LA Clippers player to play at Drew League since Montrezl Harrell in 2019. pic.twitter.com/7fDl7wv6Lv
Clutch Points: LaVar Ball EJECTED during LiAngelo Ball’s 52-point eruption in the Drew League 🔥 pic.twitter.com/BxHelwimCl
August 7, 2022 | 3:16 am EDT Update
Make no mistake, though: Much as Wood seemed to revel in the chance to take a breather and hang with young fans, he said he’s wholly focused on the possibilities that lie ahead with his tenure on the Mavs. “It’s a great opportunity for me and for this organization to try and take that next step,” Christian Wood said. “I just want to win games. My main objective is to try and get to the Finals.”
“I’m still counting my blessings and happy to be here,” he said. Specifically, the 6-foot-9 center was speaking about being a Maverick. But on Thursday, that gratitude could also extend to his time with the kids he got to work out with in Plano. “I was once that little kid that would look up to NBA players and hope that he would sign my shoe or hope that I would be able to meet him in person,” he said. “With kids, I can be myself and I can be a kid myself. So it’s fun.”