The legend of Gianna Bryant’s basketball potential was just starting to grow

Gianna Bryant was more than Kobe Bryant’s daughter. She was planning to follow her famous father’s footsteps in the world of basketball, hoping to one day play for Geno Auriemma at UConn and the WNBA.

Those dreams were tragically cut short on Sunday when the 13-year-old died alongside Kobe in a helicopter crash that also killed seven others as they were on their way to one of Gianna’s basketball games at the Mamba Sports Academy. The second-oldest of his four daughters, she had gotten big into basketball.

“She was a little kid looking up at our players,” Auriemma told Sports Illustrated. “She was so excited. Imagine the absurdity of that. Your father is Kobe Bryant and the most excited you’ve been in a long time is being around college women’s basketball players. But that’s what it meant to her, what she aspired to be.

“You’ve got Gigi and her role models and people she looks up to, and then you’ve got our players looking at her dad. It was a real head-shaking scene. When she came up here on campus, if she could have stayed, I think she would have stayed.”

Kobe and Gianna watched basketball every night and traveled around the country for games. Highlight clips of her had begun to circulate on the Internet, showing an advanced player for her age.


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