“Kobe was an incredibly hands-on dad,” a source tells Us Weekly exclusively of the late basketball legend, 41. “His daughters and Vanessa were his world.”
The Olympian was headed to his 13-year-old daughter Gianna’s basketball game in Thousand Oaks, California, at his Mamba Sports Academy on Sunday with the teenager and seven other passengers when his private chopper went down. The rotorcraft crashed in Calabasas and caught fire, killing everyone on board. The father-daughter pair are survived by Vanessa, 37, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
“The entire family is gutted without Kobe and Gigi,” the insider shares with Us.
The late Los Angeles Laker player’s daughter Gianna wanted to follow in his athletic footsteps, the Philadelphia native gushed in October 2018. “The best thing that happens is we’ll go out, and fans will come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me,” he told Jimmy Kimmel at the time. “And they’ll be like, ‘Hey, you gotta have a boy. You and Vanessa gotta have a boy to carry on the tradition, the legacy. And she is like, ‘Oy, I got this. You don’t need a boy for that, I got this.’ I’m like, ‘That’s right, you got this.’”
The shooting guard noted that Gianna “for sure” wanted to make it to the WNBA, adding, “We try to teach the kids what excellence looks like. We try to give them a foundation of the amount of work that it takes to be excellent. Playing basketball, we’re going to focus on the details. We’re going to learn the basics, learn the fundamentals and do those things over and over.”
While coaching his second child’s Athletic Amateur Union team, Kobe and Gianna maintained an “easy” dynamic. He explained to Entertainment Tonight that same year: “We haven’t had any issues of a dad-daughter sort of thing. She’s very competitive and she’s a hard worker, so there haven’t been any issues with that.”
With reporting by Nicholas Hautman
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