Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were two of nine victims of a Sunday helicopter crash in Southern California. The aircraft had been on the way to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, where Gianna's AAU team was set to play in a tournament. The day before, Bryant had been coaching Gianna's team, the Mamba Lady Mavericks, in the tournament at the academy, and photos obtained by the New York Post show the proud dad in his element.
The snaps see Bryant wearing a black sweatshirt emblazoned with "M" for Mamba, speaking to Gianna and other members of the team throughout the day. He was also photographed sitting on the sidelines as he watched the game intently. The team lost to a squad from Texas during their first game but won the second game.
Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016 and for the past to years, he's been coaching Gianna's team. In November, he told CBS News that coaching was "a lot of fun."
"I mean, she's really driven, very competitive ... and we have a group of kids that love the game," he said. "They have an appetite to learn more. And so, I enjoy being around them," he said.
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When asked about the biggest challenge in coaching his daughter, Bryant responded, "Making sure she knows that I love her whether she plays well or plays like crap. Doesn't matter. ... You know, you're my daughter before you're a basketball player. And it's important that she knows that that's how I feel. And those aren't words. You have to behave that way. You have to show her that ... After a tough game, you get in the car and it's forgotten."
In 2018, he told Jimmy Kimmel that he knew Gianna hoped to eventually play in the WNBA.
"This kid, man," he said. "The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans come up to me, and she'll be standing next to me and they'll be like: 'You've got to have a boy. You and [Vanessa] have got to have a boy, someone to carry on the tradition, the legacy.' And she's like, 'Oh, I got this.'"
The former Los Angeles Laker was so committed to Gianna continuing her family's legacy that in December, Bryant filed to trademark the name "Mambacita" for his daughter, a play on his own nickname, Black Mamba. According to documents obtained by E! News, "Mambacita" was trademarked with the intent of putting it on athletic apparel.0comments
The other victims of Sunday's crash included Gianna's basketball teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, Altobelli's parents John and Keri Altobelli, Chester's mom Sarah Chester, basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
Photo Credit: Getty / Allen Berezovsky