Kobe Bryant Celebration of Life: UConn Coach Geno Auriemma Tells Touching Story About Gianna and Her Father

Monday morning, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were honored during a celebration of life memorial event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Countless fans and celebrities were on hand to reminisce about the late NBA icon following his death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. However, one of the most memorable stories focused on Bryant's role as a father instead of his time as a player.

University of Connecticut women's basketball head coach Geno Auriemma told a story about the time that Gianna attended a women's basketball game at the university. There was a moment when Gianna was having her photo taken in the Connecticut locker room, and Bryant stepped as far back as possible so he wouldn't be in the picture. He wanted this moment to be all about his daughter.

As Auriemma explained, the simple fact that Bryant wanted his daughter to shine was an example of the type of father that he was. He felt that this was "a hell of a thing" for a parent to do.

"The look on her face, the smile, the way her eyes just took everything in," Auriemma said. "How excited she was to be around – in her mind – royalty. It's ironic. Her father's royalty and she's excited to be around royalty that looks just like what she wants to be."

This was not the only story about the late NBA icon that Auriemma told on Monday. The head coach also revealed that Bryant had approached him to ask for advice about coaching Gianna. This question caught Auriemma by surprise, which prompted him to ask Bryant's motivation.

"The uncoachable one wants to talk about coaching. Probably the most uncoachable player in the NBA during his career wants to know about coaching, and I wanted to know why. He said, 'I'm coaching my daughter's team.' I said, 'Oh, my God. That poor kid,'" Auriemma said.

Bryant did find some success in coaching his daughter's youth basketball team. This led many to believe that Gianna would one day shine in the WNBA, which was her goal. This did not happen due to the tragic helicopter crash on Jan. 26, but Auriemma will never forget the impact that Bryant made as a father.


(Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)