Kobe Bryant was scheduled to coach his daughter Gianna in a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., before the two died in a helicopter accident Sunday in Calabasas, Calif. Photo by John McCoy/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Kobe Bryant's daughter Gianna Bryant was a star basketball player, whom the Los Angeles Lakers legend saw as the heir to his legacy in the sport, before the two were among nine who died in a helicopter accident.
Gianna, 13, had dreams of playing for coach Geno Auriemma at the University of Connecticut and ultimately making it to the WNBA. Kobe and Gianna were on their way to her basketball tournament at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., when the helicopter crashed Sunday in Calabasas, Calif. Kobe coached the team.
Gianna's team was scheduled to play in the Mamba Cup Series. Tournament games were canceled following the news of their death.
Video surfaced on social media, showing coaches and players mourning Kobe and Gianna on the court after learning of their deaths.
Kobe regularly posted game highlights and clips of Gianna's skills to his social media accounts. He called Gianna "Mambacita," a reference to his own nickname, "Black Mamba." Gianna also attended many college, NBA and WNBA games while sitting next to Kobe.
Bryant told Jimmy Kimmel in 2018 that Gianna was comfortable with the idea of continuing his legacy.
"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've gotta have a boy, you and [Vanessa] gotta have a boy. You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy,'" Bryant said.
"She's like, 'I got this'. I'm like, 'that's right'. "Yes, you do, you got this."
Longtime Orange Coast College coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa also died in the helicopter crash. Harbor Day School assistant girls basketball coach Christina Mauser also died. Bryant has three other daughters, Bianka, Natalia and newborn Capri. Natalia is 17 and Bianka is 3. Capri's middle name is Kobe. She was born in June.
"The basketball gene I have completely and fully passed off to Gianna," Bryant said in a 2018 interview with Access Hollywood. "She's got it. That's all her."
Kobe and Gianna attended the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks game Jan. 12. Cameras caught Kobe tutoring Gianna about basketball at one point during the game.
"You know what's funny," Bryant said Jan. 9 on the All the Smoke podcast. "Before Gigi got into basketball I hardly watched it, but now that's she's into basketball, we watch every night."
Gianna also attended Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles.
Kobe, 41, was an 18-time All-Star, five-time NBA champion and the 2007-2008 NBA MVP. He ranks No. 4 in all-time points scored and third in field goal attempts. He also won an Academy Award and an Emmy for his animated short film Dear Basketball and was an author of children's books.