Shortly after it was reported that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, SportsCenter anchor Elle Duncan recounted meeting the NBA legend, and sparked the "Girl Dad" movement to boot. Now, following the Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna, Duncan has opened up to PEOPLE about her viral tribute to the late legend.
In case you missed it, on Jan. 27, Duncan recounted the time when she met Kobe two years prior while she was pregnant with her first daughter.
"I asked him for advice on raising girls, seeing as though he quite famously had three at the time, and he said, 'Just be grateful that you've been given that gift because girls are amazing,'" she noted, adding that he later said, "I would have five more girls if I could. I'm a girl dad."
"I suppose that the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved the most: being a dad; being a girl dad," Duncan continued, tearing up as she did so. In a recent interview with PEOPLE, conducted a day after the Celebration of Life took place, the reporter opened up about her viral moment and how it, and Kobe's sweet words, led to a much larger "Girl Dad" movement.
"I think girl dad has obviously turned into a really positive moment and something I certainly didn't expect," Duncan shared.
The reporter explained that she was initially hesitant to share her story, but that a producer later encouraged her to share the anecdote and its beautiful message.
"At first, I was very hesitant because I was like,'It's not about me, it's about Kobe,"" she shared. "I don't know Kobe, I met him that one time. I feel like people probably want to hear from people that knew him intimately."
Duncan noted that her producer said that "if Kobe was willing to open up to this complete stranger about his daughters and his love for his daughters, that was probably a great indicator of who he was."0comments
The SportsCenter anchor expressed that she was worried about the Bryant family's reaction to this "Girl Dad" movement, but that she was happy to see Vanessa Bryant's use of the term during her speech at the recent public memorial service (Vanessa called Kobe "the MVP of girl dads, or MVD").
"I've been asking people and, from what I can glean, most people feel like [the story] made Kobe incredibly relatable and humanize him a bit — because Kobe had always been this mythical figure for most of us," she continued to tell PEOPLE. "He was almost like a superhero. … And while he was always such a big advocate for women in sports, and I think it was well-documented, how much he loved his daughters, I suppose that it puts people in his shoes and it made Kobe feel relatable to them."