Remembering Kobe Bryant #GirlDad

“Once upon a time, there was a boy who wanted to be really good at basketball.”

There was not a dry eye in the arena after the words from the legend himself were spoken, taken from his award-winning short film, Dear Basketball.  The memorial to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna was a day of emotion as thousands in the Los Angeles area gathered to remember the two of them. After the tragic accident on January 26, the family decided to have the event on February 24, to honor both of their numbers (2-24).

Although the memorial caused throats to swell and many tears to fall, it also managed to create laughter, pulling the sweet memories of the pair to the surface. Instead of being a day of sorrow, this was a celebration of life.  Kobe’s relationship with his daughter Gigi, as well as all three of his other girls, was prevalent during the entire ceremony. However, Kobe’s commitment to women went beyond his wife and daughters. He wanted to use his platform to help and shape young girls everywhere, and the memorial made a powerful statement to the themes that shaped the all-star basketball player: being a “girl-dad,” empowering women, and promoting women’s sports.

When Vanessa Bryant took the stage, she delivered a heart-breaking goodbye to her baby-girl and her soulmate. She showed her Mamba mentality as she stood before a sold-out crowd, showing them private home videos of the family and displayed how Kobe was more than just an NBA all-star, while Gigi was a girl who wanted to grow up to be just like her dad. She praised all of her husband’s “girl-dad” qualities, such as always telling his children how smart and beautiful they were, as well as how to push forward when times were tough.

The phrase “girl-dad” has been used more frequently now than in the past decade. Kobe said it loud and proud, and now it’s trending more than ever. To him, the best part of his legacy wasn’t basketball, it was fatherhood. He loved being a dad of girls, a hardened black mamba who was softened by his daughters.

Kobe wanted to spread the message of female empowerment, especially for women’s sports. It could easily be seen in his support of Gianna’s love of basketball. He was coaching Gigi’s team, took her to see the UConn’s women team play, and was a big advocate for the WNBA. He reached out to women athletes and made them feel special. A once polarizing figure has become a unifying force that is bringing together all athletes.

For many of us, Kobe Bryant was our favorite player. Some might remember him as an entrepreneur, a filmmaker, even an icon. Although few may have known the true man behind the legend, there is one thing that everyone will remember about him. Most importantly, he will forever be immortalized as a father, the proudest girl-dad there ever was.

In honor of Kobe and Gianna’s legacy, the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation seek to provide opportunities to young people through sports. For more information or to donate, click here.