Kobe Bryant’s Instagram page is filled with photos of his four children, all daughters. The one in the pictures most often wearing basketball gear, playing ball or watching a game at courtside with her father, was the second-oldest, Gianna, nicknamed Gigi, 13 years old and a budding star in her own age group.
Gigi Bryant died along with her father and three others, including the pilot, in Sunday’s helicopter crash in southern California. Her life was well-chronicled by Kobe Bryant in recent months – including in a glimpse of her at a game last December, in an animated conversation with her father that became a popular social media meme.
In an IG post from last May, Bryant wished Gigi a happy birthday, alongside photos of her in her basketball uniform, and in a winter cap and a University of Connecticut jacket. She has been nicknamed by some observers “Little Mamba” and “Mamba Jr.,” and had shown enough talent already that a future at Connecticut, one of the marquee college basketball programs in America, was far from out of the question.
Reports have said that Gigi and Kobe Bryant, one of her teammates and a parent, were taking the helicopter to one of their team’s practices.
Late in 2019, Bryant told the hosts of a podcast hosted by former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, why he was showing up at NBA games with Gigi more often.
“Before Gigi got into basketball I hardly watched it, but now that she’s gotten into basketball, we watch every night,” Bryant said, according to People magazine.
“We just had so much fun because it was the first time I was seeing the game through her eyes,” Bryant continued on the podcast. “It wasn’t me sitting there, you know, as an athlete or a player or something like that, and you know it’s like about me, and I don’t like that. It was her, she was having such a good time.”