In the days following her death aboard a helicopter crash that killed nine, including her father, basketball star, Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant's middle school honored the late 13-year-old with a touching ceremony, retiring her jersey in footage captured by her mother, Vanessa Bryant via Instagram. Vanessa took to Instagram on Wednesday night to share a number of videos of the heartfelt ceremony, captioning the set: "Gianna Bryant's Jersey Retirement," which began with a message from members of her middle school, Harbor Day Student Council.
View this post on Instagram
"Today we honor as a student and as an athlete. As a coach, we always want to find and coach students who are committed, dedicated and passionate about a sport. Gianna was all of these. She was determined to learn everything she could about the sport of basketball and worked as hard as possible to develop her basketball skills," the Harbor Day School faculty member said, adding the ceremony would go on to "commemorate her athleticism and caring spirit" shared with all. "She will be the last person to wear the number 2 for the basketball team. We hope that when you look at her jersey hanging in our gym you will remember Gianna and be inspired to work hard."
In the videos, fans had a chance to learn more about the inspiring teenager by fellow students and faculty, who revealed she was a member of the student council. Speaking highly of her penchant to "make things better," a student council faculty member said the teenager loved her school and helping "elevate the student population."
"In the 7th grade when she said she'd run for student council I was so excited," the member said in video shared by Vanessa. "We gave her one assignment and she ran with it as quickly and as eagerly as anyone I've ever seen. Gianna was an amazing leader in our student council. We will always remember her will to make things better and to strive for excellence."
One of Gianna's fellow students also took to the podium, admitting that Gianna had "big dreams and visions of bringing the school together, uniting upper school students with lower school students and uniting boys with girls." Before revealing some programs the teen had worked toward creating and building, one of her peers added that Gianna wanted to kickstart a program that would allow students to participate in sports activities during recess.
"She truly gave everything she could give," the student said. "She brought unique ideas we never would have thought of without her. She led by example. One thing incredibly impressive about her was that she would never wait for change, she was the change. She would inspire change in teachers and friends."
The ceremony was arranged with a bouquet of heart-shaped balloons and a table, decorated with flowers arranged in the shape of her jersey number, 2, which she proudly wore as a player for both the Mamba Sports Academy and Harbor Day basketball team.
In another video shared by Vanessa, a number of Harbor Day 6th and 7th graders assembled on the gym floor to sing Maroon 5's "Memories," which later caught the attention of Adam Levine who was touched by the gesture, and captioned the reshare: "It's important to cry. It's important to sing. It's important to love so hard and hold on so tightly for as long as we can. Now more than ever. #GIRLDAD."
The Harbor Day music teacher fought back tears when revealing the reason behind that song choice, admitting they wanted to "keep Gianna with us and in a special way — through all that we do."
Vanessa went on to share a total of nine media clips from the ceremony, with her last of the evening honoring her late daughter alongside a slideshow featuring the retired blue and yellow jersey framed, the decorated display and a speech from another member of her middle school.
Gianna and NBA star, Kobe Bryant died on Jan. 26, when their helicopter, carrying friends and fellow members of the Mamba Academy, crashed in California. The crash has since been ruled an accident by the NTSB.0comments
On Jan. 29, Vanessa broke her silence concerning her husband and daughter's deaths with an incredibly moving post, where she announced the creation of the Mamba On Three Fund that will be used to help the families of the other victims in the tragic crash.
Photo credit: Getty Images