It’s been just over 48 hours since the world learned of the tragic deaths of global superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and the seven other passengers on board the helicopter that crashed in Calabasas, California, on Sunday (January 26).
Tributes from in and around the world of sports continue, and those that were lucky enough to share a personal moment with Bryant are remembering those encounters.
“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 Monday (January 27). “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.’”
Duncan fought back tears throughout the 90-second monologue visibly shaken, as many still are, coming to grips with this awful reality.
“I asked him for 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.” Elle then asked Kobe what he thought if he had a fourth daughter, the Lakers' legend said “without hesitation” that he would “have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”
Kobe and Vanessa did in fact have another girl, Capri, born in 2019.
The moment, in the now-viral video, that hits different is when Elle describes Kobe talking about his daughter’s athleticism.
His oldest, Natalia, is an accomplished volleyball player, the youngest at the time (Bianka) is a toddler. So he didn’t yet know what she could be. But his eyes lit up when he talked about Gigi.
“She’s a monster, a beast, she’s better than I was at her age” Elle recalls Kobe saying.
With tears flowing, Elle concluded,“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.”
(Photo: Getty Images)