Kobe Bryant’s daughter Gianna, 13, was flying in the helicopter that crashed and killed all nine people onboard, ESPN and TMZ are both reporting. The news is a heartbreaking blow that comes on the heels of the shock that the NBA legend died at just 41 on Jan. 26. Kobe leaves behind his wife Vanessa, 37, and their three other daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months. ESPN reporter, Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted, “Kobe Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his daughter Gianna when the helicopter crashed. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent.” TMZ also reported on the heartbreaking development, writing that Kobe’s reps confirmed the news to them. A source told the site that father and daughter were en route to Thousand Oaks, California to the Mamba Academy for a basketball practice.
It’s a huge tragedy for the proud dad’s family. Kobe’s social media accounts are full of pictures of the daughters that he doted on. Just seven days before the horrific crash he posted a photo of his eldest daughter, Natalia, who turned 17 on Jan. 19. He captioned an Instagram photo of her, “Happy Birthday my baby. I love you beyond measure. You will always be my little Principessa #17.” Less than a month earlier, on Christmas Day he shared a collage of festive photos that showed him snuggling with all of his daughters, including his youngest Capri and toddler Bianka. On Sept. 13 he posted a photo of him hugging Gianna. “My Gigi,” he captioned the photo using the teen’s nickname.
Just in September last year the proud dad gushed about his kids and about being a father as he promoted his children’s book Legacy & The Queen. “I have four girls at home and wanted to make sure that’s important that they see characters that look like them that are also athletes,” he told Good Morning America about penning a book about a female child tennis player. “They get tired of hearing my voice of be persistent, work hard, believe in yourself.”
Kobe on Gianna: “The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans come up to me, and she'll be standing next to me ..
They’ll be like “you gotta have a boy, have soembody carry on the legacy… she’s like, “oh, I got this!”pic.twitter.com/rsIgOXbNlI
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 26, 2020
He also joked about having a 16-year-old and the prospect of dating. Asked what it must be like being Kobe Bryant and having boys coming to the door to date his daughter, he joked, “Fortunately for me we haven’t really had that happen.” He also added, “I don’t really want to think about that. But that’s every father. Stay away. Stay away. I’m kidding though.”
Shortly after the news broke of Gianna’s death, a Sept. 2018 clip of Kobe on Jimmy Kimmel Live bursting with pride about his daughter surfaced on Twitter. When asked if his daughter is interested in playing in the WNBA, he said, “She does, for sure. This kid man.” He added, “I’m telling you. 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 gotta have a boy. You and V gotta have a boy man, have somebody to carry on your tradition and the legacy.’ And she’s like, ‘Oi, I got this. You don’t need no boy for that. I got this.” And I’m like, ‘That’s right. Yes you do. You got this.’