As NBA fans, Angelenos, and people around the world mourn the loss of legendary L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a fatal helicopter crash on Sunday morning, many are sharing tributes to the man he was on and off the court. ESPN announced that they will re-air his final game, as a tribute. On Monday night’s episode of ESPN’s SportsCenter, anchor Elle Duncan tearfully shared a story from the time she met Kobe backstage at an ESPN event in 2018, when she was eight months pregnant with her daughter. Duncan recounts that she asked the father of three daughters at the time for advice, and he said, “Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift, because girls are amazing.” Duncan asked how he would feel if he and Vanessa Bryant had a fourth daughter (their fourth was born in 2019). As Duncan tells it:
Without hesitation, he said: “I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.” When it came to sports, he said that his oldest daughter was an accomplished volleyball player, and that the youngest was a toddler so TBD. But that middle one, he said that middle one was “a monster, she’s a beast. She’s better than I was at her age. She’s got it.” That middle one, of course, was Gigi.
Duncan adds, reflecting on the tragedy, that “the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved the most: being a dad. Being a girl dad.”