‘Mambacita’ Gianna Bryant, 13, was going to carry on Kobe’s legacy

Kobe Bryant with daughter Gianna (Source: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant’s life came with all the pressures of being a star kid in the Instagram age, and then some look her up on Google and the autofill algorithm suggested “stats”, “playing basketball” and “fadeaways” suffixes.

Perhaps it was that fateful night of 2009 NBA finals when the 3-year-old Gigi, decked out in the Lakers yellow and purple along with her victorious father, first caught the basketball bug.

While elder sister Natalia drifted towards volleyball, Gigi became a regular fixture at Lakers games. Gigi was also instrumental in defusing any supposed feud between Kobe and the current NBA megastar LeBron James. For it was his daughter that prompted a jaded Kobe to start turning up at basketball games again. Videos of Kobe breaking down the game to his daughter courtside started doing the rounds.

It was in November that Kobe christened his daughter ‘Mambacita’, a play on his Black Mamba nickname. The 41-year-old posted a video of his daughter finishing a solo dribble with the fadeaway swish.

The University of Connecticut Huskies was already earmarked her the next stop, and Gigi eventually aimed to reach the WNBA. Kobe too believed his daughter will carry his legacy. Last year, in an interview, Kobe said: “...fans will be like, 'You gotta have a boy to have somebody carry on the tradition, the legacy.’ And (Gigi) is like, ‘I got this!’” he said. "That's right. Yes, you do. You got this."