On Saturday, January 25, the late NBA star, 41, was photographed coaching his 13-year-old daughter’s basketball team, the Mamba Lady Mavericks, at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.
The longtime Los Angeles Laker wore a black sweatshirt and hat with the “M” symbol embroidered.
On the morning of Sunday, January 26, the pair were killed along with seven others while on their way to the same sports center for another game. Gianna was following in her fathers’ footsteps and was passionate about the game of basketball; she had hoped to play college basketball at the University of Connecticut and make it to the WNBA.
The Olympian and his daughter had been to many games together over the years, including a Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers game earlier this month. In May, he gushed to the Los Angeles Times about her “curiosity” about the game.
“She’s very curious. Even in a heated situation in a game where it’s going back and forth, she can detach herself and come to me and ask a very specific question, which is not common,” he shared at the time. “She’ll come over and say, ‘OK, on this particular trap when I’m trying to close the gap but she’s getting on the outside, do I need to change my angle?’ It’s a very specific question. That’s pretty damn cool.”
In October 2018, the Oscar winner revealed to Jimmy Kimmel that he was thrilled his daughter wanted to pursue a career in the WNBA.
“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. 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,'” he recalled. “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.'”
Bryant and Gianna are survived by wife and mom Vanessa Bryant and daughters and sisters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.