After Kobe Bryant's retirement in 2016, the legendary NBA superstar dedicated his time to his family and most especially to her daughter Gianna, whom he shared the same passion and love for sports.
Dubbed to be the next basketball superstar, the 13-year-old Gigi was indeed a gifted player and was set out to carry his father's legacy.
Unfortunately, her dream to become a professional basketball player was cut short after the tragic incident that happened on January 26, 2020.
Gigi and Kobe, along with seven other passengers, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California while en route to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game.
Other victims also include Gigi's teammate Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, with parents and head coach John and wife Keri Altobelli, Sarah Chester, coach Christina Mauser and pilot by Ara Zobayan
Gigi Bryant As WNBA Honorary Draft Pick
Almost four months after the devastating incident, the WNBA paid tribute to the deceased three young athletes by citing them as honorary selections prior to the first round of the 2020 Draft.
The WNBA honors Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester and makes them honorary draft picks at WNBA draft pic.twitter.com/wqsntNNzDe — gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 17, 2020
"While it brings us pain not to see their dreams come to fruition, I'm grateful and proud to announce them tonight as honorary draft picks," WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said.
Vanessa Bryant's Heartfelt Message On Instagram\
Following this, Vanessa Bryant, Gianna's mother and Kobe's widow, posted an Instagram video promoting the WNBA draft as she mentioned the girls as members of "The Class of 2024."
In a video message, she thanked the league for acknowledging the hard work and dedication that Gigi has put into basketball.
"It would have been a dream come true for her. She worked tirelessly every single day. She wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all-time, just like her daddy. So thank you, thank you for honoring my little girl."
The teary-eyed mother-of-four added: "Kobe and GiGi loved the WNBA. This is his sweatshirt. Thank you. I want to congratulate all of this year's draft picks. So congratulations, work hard. Never settle. Use that Mamba Mentality."
"Mambacita," as what her relatives also calls her, was a huge Connecticut women's basketball fan and was supposed to be the next professional baller in the family.
A Legend In The Making
During the NBA icon's appearance with "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Bryant shared that Gigi always wanted to be a University of Connecticut Husky.
The Bryant patriarch spoke about her daughter's passion for basketball.
"The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans come up to you, and (Gianna) is standing on the side, and they're like, 'You've gotta have a boy, you've gotta have someone carry on the legacy'. She's like, 'Oi! I got this!' And I'm right, 'Yes you do, that's right!'"
Moreover, he described his daughter as a driven and competitive athlete who shows commitment to her craft.
Kobe furthered that Gigi was "pretty easy to coach," and does not give him any issues with basketball training.