Kobe Bryant Exemplified the Pleasures of Being a Girl Father

Kobe Bryant’s great Lakers career was over in 2020, with his two numbers retired and his five championship rings carefully stored for his future induction into the NBA Hall of Fame. That was all taken care of.

When he was murdered in a helicopter crash, he was still coming into his own as a father of four daughters.

His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, as well as two of her youth basketball league teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, Alyssa’s parents, John and Keri Altobelli, and Payton’s mother, Sarah Chester, were with him, adding to the tragedy.

All of them died, as did assistant coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan, and the world, which was mostly going about its business at the moment, came to a halt to mourn.

For years, Kobe had gone by helicopter instead of driving, since the famous athlete turned entrepreneur, author, producer, and ladies’ basketball coach didn’t want to waste time stranded in Los Angeles traffic.

They were driving to a tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, some 82 miles from Bryant’s house in Newport Beach. Kobe had retired from basketball in 2016, and Gigi’s passion for the game and budding talent had served as a bridge back to the game for him.

The courtyard outside Staples Center, which Grammys host Alicia Keys called “the house Kobe Bryant built” that night, was full of fans wearing No. 24 and No. 8 jerseys just hours after the amazing news spread through the Southland.

The ground was covered in flowers, candles, and other souvenirs. Buildings were bathed in purple and gold lights for days, paintings sprouted up all over the city, and bus signs flashed “R.I.P. Kobe” between stops. Meanwhile, tributes began online, on TV, radio, and podcasts, and continued for weeks.

Even though Kobe’s life was being looked at from every angle, there was one ESPN story that stood out from the rest. It was a tribute to a part of Kobe’s life that showed off his best qualities and that many people could relate to.

While SportsCenter presenter Elle Duncan saw Kobe Bryant backstage at an event when she was eight months pregnant, he asked her how far along she was and what she was having.

Duncan gave her a high five and exclaimed, “Girls are the best!” when she told him she was having a girl. “Just be glad that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing,” Kobe advised her when she asked if he had any advice.


When asked if he wanted more children, the father of only three at the time—Natalia, Gigi, and Bianka—said that his wife, Vanessa Bryant, was willing to try again.

When asked what he would do if he became the father of four daughters, Kobe told Duncan, “If I could, I’d have five more children.” I’m a female father. ” (In June 2019, he and Vanessa welcomed their first child, Capri.)

The host signed off, tears in his eyes, adding, “When I think back on this tragedy and the half-hour I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, the only small solace I can take from it is knowing that he died doing what he loved most—being a father. Being a female father. “

With that, the hashtag #girldad began to trend around the world, with dads—and women posting pictures of dads and grandpas—uniting as one proud family, a network of people who may have been grieving a loss but were also damn proud to be the fathers of daughters, joined by the girls of all ages who adored them for it.

“I’m very happy and lucky to be a GirlDad,” Alex Rodriguez, the father of Natasha, 17, and Ella, 14, tweeted after seeing the SportsCenter segment.

Trey Hardee (father of two daughters and a son as of this tweet) tweeted: “Being a girl father has been the highlight of my brief existence. This is a portion of Kobe that I wish I had known about. This is how he will be remembered by me. It’s not about the victories, rings, or records. # girldad.

When Vanessa gave a stern, heroic, and heartbreaking eulogy for her husband and daughter at the Staples Center tribute for Kobe and Gigi in February 2020, she dubbed him “the MVP of girl dads, or MVD.”

When Pau Gasol, Kobe’s old teammate, gave birth to his first child in September 2020 (and named her Gigi), he immediately joined the club. Finally, our little one is here!! The delivery went off without a hitch, and we couldn’t be more pleased! ” He posted it on Instagram. “Elisabet Gianna Gasol is a wonderful name for our stunning daughter!! #girldad.”

In Spanish, it’s called “# Padredenia.”

That hashtag is still trending on social media more than two years after Kobe’s death, with roughly 2 million posts showing up when you search for it on Instagram, plus countless others with minor variations.

A brief look through the results of a # girldad search should be enough if you’re in the mood to have your heart warmed and you’ve already seen all of the greatest puppy pictures on Twitter. The phrase “Kobe Bryant” has simply become part of the cultural vernacular, despite the fact that he did not coin it.

Duncan said the day after the memorial that she was glad her remembering had led to such a “good moment” in the middle of all the suffering, but she hadn’t expected it to have such an effect.

“At first, I was hesitant because I was thinking, ‘It’s not about me, it’s about Kobe,'” she said of putting the piece together for People.

I’m not familiar with Kobe; I’ve only met him once. Someone would most likely want to hear from people who knew him well. ” “If Kobe was willing to open up to this complete stranger about his girls and his love for his daughters, that was probably a wonderful indicator of who he was,” her producer pointed out.

She added that Kobe “was the first person to make me believe that [having a girl] was the best thing that could have happened to me.” He shattered the myth or prejudice that males are only complete when they produce boys. “

Meanwhile, the Ohio woman who trademarked the word in 2017 and ran an online business selling “GirlDad” attire was surprised to see it become popular—especially given she’d already witnessed how closed some people can be when it comes to celebrating families with all-girl broods.

“We got a lot of harsh comments at times,” Hilary Wertin, whose site alldaughters.com also offers “BoyDad” goods, told CantonRep.com about what prompted her to enter the “GirlDad” market that year. “It was unexpected.”

“We have a strange piece of this national debate that’s happening,” her husband, Jonas Wertin, conceded, referring to the phrase’s overnight global popularity, which resulted in a sudden surge in orders.

Hilary said she didn’t want to “be one of those people” profiting from tragedy, but after receiving requests for Kobe-related merchandise, she designed a basketball-themed shirt in Lakers colors and donated the proceeds to the MambaOnThree Fund, which was established to help the four other families who lost loved ones in the crash.

She also had to start making efforts to reestablish her trademark in accordance with the law as a result of all the items that began to appear to cash in on the viral moment.

Hilary remarked of her company, “I didn’t do it to hop on someone else’s bandwagon.” “I did it because I believed that raising an all-girls family was just as important as raising an all-boys family.”

While daughters and dads from all walks and stages of life have utilized the term, from gestation (lots of excited soon-to-be # girldads out there) to graduation and inauguration (“As a # girldad it’s great to hear glass shatter today,” tweeted one on Jan. 2021), it remains especially poignant in the athletic community, where Kobe’s legacy looms large.

For Lilibet, Prince Harry wears a “Girl Dad” T-shirt.

Parents aren’t the only ones who appreciate the extra attention given to aspiring female athletes like Gigi Bryant.

Kami Miner, whose father Harold Miner was a former NBA player, told the Los Angeles Times, “When [Kobe] died, it was devastating to my entire family.

It was wonderful to see the media focus on his role as a father and how these athletes are attempting to pass on their knowledge to their children. “

“Hearing about Kobe and his relationship with his daughters gives some visibility to girls’ sports,” she continued, “and hopefully that trend continues. “There are a lot of young female athletes. They are deserving of it. They put in the same amount of effort as the boys. “

MacKenly Randolph, the daughter of two-time NBA All-Star Zach Randolph, was trained by Kobe at the Mamba Sports Academy (now renamed Sports Academy, the “Mamba” has been retired) and had done the same helicopter ride with him and Gigi the week before they died following a sleepover at their house.

The adolescent told The New York Times, “He basically taught me how to play defense and how to rotate.” “You’d know when he’s upset or not fooling around,” says the coach, “but he’d never, like, yell at you.”

As her father pointed out, “He adored the ladies.” He adored my child. “I adore her, guy,” he said. “‘We’re brothers for life,’ I told him when he told me that. “

MacKenly attended Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, a private school in the Los Angeles area. And her father completely understands Kobe’s point of view. “It’s a terrific feeling,” Zach told the Los Angeles Times. “Oh, dad, you’re a badass.” I wouldn’t change a thing about it. “