The No. 2 basketball jersey worn by Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, 13, was retired on Wednesday in a ceremony at her Newport Beach, California school.
Gigi’s picture was featured on a projector screen during the Harbor Day School ceremony. Her teammates, friends, basketball coaches, teachers, and school administrators took turns coming to the podium to share reflections— remembering her as a humble and beautiful person.
“She never came to school and bragged about anything,” Yunga Webb, her music teacher, and former adviser, said, according to TODAY. “She was one of the most humble people I’ve ever known.”
Webb said that Gigi’s eighth-grade classmates are leaning on each other to cope with the loss. An example of this, the teacher shared is evident in little things like taking attendance every day.
“We (still) call her name. And when we call her name, I hear 40-plus kids say ‘here,’” Webb said, TODAY reported. “In honor of her. Because she’s always with us.”
Gigi, her father Kobe Bryant, and seven others died when the helicopter they were flying in crashed in Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26.
The helicopter was transporting Bryant, 41, Gigi and other players and parents to Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a girls’ basketball game.
One of the school’s basketball coaches, Joshua Parks, said Gianna was one of the fiercest competitors he’d ever seen.
“She definitely represented the ‘Mamba Mentality’ every time she stepped on the floor,” Parks added.
The jersey retirement ceremony was captured by Vanessa Bryant in several Instagram videos and photos. In one, Bryant wrote: “My Gigi. I love you! I miss you. You’ve taught us all that no act of kindness is ever too small.”
In another, Gigi’s mom wrote “My Gianna. God I miss you. I’ve been so lucky to have woken up to see your gorgeous face and amazing smile for 13 years. Wish it would’ve been until my last breath. Mommy loves you to the moon and back. Infinity plus 1. #2 #Mambacita #GigiBryant”
Bryant was called Mambacita and had plans of one day playing for the University of Connecticut and the WNBA.