Gianna Bryant’s dream was to make it to the WNBA.
On Friday, the league honored that dream posthumously.
Gianna, along with her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, were selected as honorary draft picks in Friday’s WNBA draft. The three were killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles in January along with NBA legend Kobe Bryant and five others.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced the three picks in alphabetical order to start the virtual draft, and played messages from their three families.
The WNBA's incredible tribute to Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester. pic.twitter.com/exxygT2dO4
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 17, 2020
“Thank you so much for honoring my Gigi and selecting her to be an honorary draft pick this year,” Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, said. “It would have been a dream come true for her. She worked tirelessly every single day. She wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, just like her daddy. So thank you, thank you for honoring my little girl. Kobe and Gigi loved the WNBA. This is his sweatshirt.
“Thank you. I want to congratulate all of this year’s draft picks. So congratulations. Work hard. Never settle. Use that Mamba Mentality.”
‘Gigi would have likely become the best player in the WNBA’
Gianna had huge aspirations to play basketball at the collegiate level, and was reportedly “hellbent” on playing for Geno Auriemma at UConn. Altobelli and Chester also both had college dreams. It was reportedly Altobelli’s goal to play at Oregon.
Gianna already had her sights set on the WNBA, too.
“Gigi would have likely become the best player in the WNBA,” Vanessa Bryant said at their memorial in February. “She would have made a huge difference in women’s basketball.”
Even though Kobe had four daughters, eliminating the possibility of a child of his playing in the NBA, both he and Gianna were more than confident that she’d be the one to carry on his incredible basketball legacy. The two were seemingly always working on her game, visiting and training with Auriemma and Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu — who was selected as the No. 1 overall pick on Friday night — among others, and constantly attending games and studying film.
“The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans will come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me and they’ll be like, ‘Hey you gotta have a boy. You and V got to have a boy, have someone to carry on the tradition, your legacy,’ ” Kobe said in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in 2018.
“She’s like, ‘Oh, I got this.’ ”
Kobe on Gianna: “The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans come up to me, and she'll be standing next to me ..
They’ll be like “you gotta have a boy, have soembody carry on the legacy... she’s like, “oh, I got this!”pic.twitter.com/rsIgOXbNlI
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 26, 2020
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