When Kobe Bryant appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2018, the Los Angeles Lakers legend could not stop gushing about 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant's basketball skills. The interview resurfaced on Sunday, in the wake of Bryant and Gianna's deaths in a helicopter crash. Bryand and Gianna were confirmed to be among the nine victims of the crash.
In the 2018 interview, Kimmel asked Bryant if Gianna wanted to play in the WNBA.
Kobe talking about Gianna, just wow pic.twitter.com/qOqbWtiL5Q— HoopMix (@HoopMixOnly) January 26, 2020
"She does for sure," Bryant replied without a second thought. "This kid, man..."
Bryant said he would often see fans come up to him and tell him that he and his wife Vanessa Bryant need to have boys to carry on his legacy, even with Gianna right beside him.
"She's like, 'Hey, I got this. Don't need a boy for that,'" Bryant recalled. "I'm like, 'That's right.'"
Another interview resurfaced as well, in which Bryant shared a story about a game where Gianna was at the free-throw line with a chance to win the game. Everyone in the gym went silent, and Bryant thought about calling a time out to give her some advice. On second thought, he decided to see how she could handle the pressure. Gianna took a deep breath, took the shot and won the game.
He was so proud of that girl.pic.twitter.com/lChIspFtTl— Roy White III (@RDubThree) January 26, 2020
"She's insanely competitive," Bryant said of Gianna.
Bryant and Gianna were in his helicopter when it crashed just before 10 a.m. PT Sunday morning. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said there were no survivors, and have not identified the six other victims yet. John Antobelli, the Orange Coast College baseball coach, was reportedly on the plane.
Bryant played all 20 seasons of his NBA career with the Lakers. He won five NBA Championships and two Olympic gold medals with Team USA. He is survived by his wife Vanessa and their three other daughters.
"For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals. But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna."
"We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world," Silver concluded.
Photo credit: Getty Images