As tributes to the late Kobe Bryant continue to roll in, ESPN host Elle Duncan shared a heartwarming story on air about the time she met the NBA superstar in May 2018 while she was pregnant.
“I saw him and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s Kobe. I gotta get a picture for the ‘gram,” the SportsCenter anchor, 36, said on Monday, January 27. “I didn’t get it for a few minutes ‘cause as I approached him, he immediately commented on my rather large, eight-month pregnant belly. ‘How are you? How close are you? What are you having?’”
When Duncan informed Bryant that she was expecting a girl, he gave her a high-five and said, “Girls are the best!”
The sports commentator recalled asking the retired Los Angeles Lakers player for advice. At the time, he had three daughters: Natalia, Gianna and Bianka. He and wife Vanessa Bryant later welcomed a fourth, Capri.
“He said, ‘Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing,’” Duncan recounted. “His third daughter, Bianka, was about a year-and-a-half old at the time, so I asked if he wanted more children. And he said that his wife, Vanessa, really wanted to try again for a boy but was sort of jokingly concerned that it would be another girl. I was like, ‘Four girls? Like, are you joking? What would you think? How would you feel?’ And without hesitation, he said, ‘I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.’”
The reporter told viewers that Kobe went on to tell her that his eldest, Natalia, “was an accomplished volleyball player,” while toddler Bianka was still “TBD.”
“But that middle one, he said, ‘That middle one was a monster. She’s a beast. She’s better than I was at her age. She’s got it,’” Duncan said as she choked up. “That middle one, of course, was Gigi.”
Kobe, 41, and Gianna, 13, were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in the Calabasas neighborhood of L.A. on Sunday, January 26. They were traveling to the teenager’s basketball game when the accident occurred.
“When I reflect on this tragedy, and that half an hour that I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose that the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what loved the most — being a dad, being a girl dad,” Duncan said on Monday.
A source told Us Weekly exclusively that the athlete “was an incredibly hands-on dad, [and] his daughters and Vanessa were his world.”
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