The University of Connecticut women's basketball team paid tribute to Gianna Bryant on Monday, ahead of their exhibition game against the United States national team in Hartford, Connecticut (Tuesday morning in Manila).
Gianna Bryant, known as GiGi, died along with her father, NBA icon Kobe Bryant, in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles yesterday. She was 13 years old.
The teenager was a budding basketball player, dubbed "Mambacita" by Kobe after his own nickname, the Black Mamba. He often brought her to basketball games, and told Jimmy Kimmel in a 2018 appearance that she intended to go to the WNBA.
Before that, however, GiGi had wanted to play for the UCONN Huskies, one of the premier women's basketball programs in the United States.
The team honored her with a spot on their bench ahead of their game, and said that GiGi is "forever a Husky."
"The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans would come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me... and they'll be like, 'You’ve gotta have a boy, you and V. (Vanessa) gotta have a boy," Bryant said in his interview with Kimmel.
"You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy. She (Gianna) is like, 'I got this.' I’m like, 'that’s right,'" he went on. "Yes, you do, you got this."
GiGi went viral last year after a clip of her hitting her father's trademark fadeaway jumper was posted online.
Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady broke down in tears on ESPN's The Jump this morning, as he discussed how he and Bryant coached their children's teams.
"Just to watch her play was like watching a young Kobe. The moves... she had a fadeaway at 13 years old. Watching this girl, just looks like her dad out there. Like damn, she's gonna be special," McGrady said of GiGi.
"And she's not gonna get that oppportunity. He's not gonna get that chance for her to carry on that legacy," said McGrady, fighting back tears.
Kobe and GiGi were on their way to a tournament in Los Angeles when their helicopter crashed. Seven other people – including one of GiGi's teammates and a coach – perished in the accident. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse
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