“It’s likely that you’re hearing many personal anecdotes about Kobe Bryant, so here’s mine,” ESPN’s Elle Duncan said during SportsCenter on Jan. 27, a day after the Los Angeles Lakers star and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, were killed in a helicopter crash. “I met Kobe one time, backstage at an event for ESPN in New York. And I saw him, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s Kobe. I gotta get a picture for the ‘Gram. … I didn’t get it for a few minutes, because, as I approached him, he immediately commented on my rather large eight-month pregnant belly. ‘How are you? How close are you? What are you having?’ ‘A girl,’ I said, and he then high-fived me. ‘Girls are the best.’ ”
“I asked him advice on raising girls,” Elle continued, “as he quite famously had three at the time. He said, ‘just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing. His third daughter, Bianka, was about a year-and-a-half old at the time, so I asked if he wanted more children. He said that his wife, Vanessa [Bryant] really wanted to try again for a boy, but was sort of jokingly concerned that it would be another girl.” When Elle asked Kobe what he thought if he had a fourth daughter, the 5-time NBA Champion said “without hesitation” that he would “have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.” Kobe and Vanessa would welcome Capri in 2019.
Elle began to choke up when she recalled how Kobe praised his daughter’s athletic abilities, mainly how Gianna was “a monster, a beast, she’s better than I was at her edge” on the basketball court. With tears in her eyes, Elle continued. “When I reflect on the tragedy and the half-an-hour I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose the only small source of comfort for me is knowing he died doing what he loved the most. Being a dad. Being a girl dad.” As the tribute went viral, many men shared how they were also a proud “GirlDad.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 28, 2020
The heartfelt tribute went viral, with many celebrities sharing the speech on their social media accounts. “#GirlDady w #KobeStories,” commented Questlove. “Thas Right. Girl’s are the best,” tweeted radio legend, Ebro Darden. “As the oldest girl of a #girldad – 6 girls, no boys – I always find it interesting (& unintentionally backhanded) when people find out my dad has all girls,” commented Catfish host Kamie Crawford. “Their response is usually, ‘omg your poor dad!’ This story about Kobe illustrates what a blessing it is to be a girl dad.”
One day before his death, Kobe was spotted bonding with 3-year-old Bianka. The two went to the Fashion Island Mall in Newport Beach. In the footage, Kobe keeps an eye on his toddler as she watches other kids playing in the mall. This was just a casual day for Kobe and Bianka because the Bryant family frequented the mall and other Newport Beach sports. Sadly, this would be the last time that Bianka would spend with her father.