Gianna ‘GiGi’ Bryant was determined to play basketball at the University of Connecticut (UConn). Kobe Bryant was overheard telling Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller that his daughter was focused on attending the school and playing for the Huskies nearly two years ago.
“She is hellbent on UConn, really,” Kobe said in 2018. Perhaps, Gianna’s visit to the university in 2017 heightened her desire to attend the school. The UConn women’s basketball team welcomed young Gianna and her father with nothing but incredible hospitality. Kobe took several pictures of his daughter surrounded by the college basketball team to commemorate the visit.
Gianna was well on her way to carrying on her father’s legacy in basketball. At just 13-years-old, the teen showed a seriousness about her craft that matched the drive of older players. Much of Gianna’s passion and work ethic on the court were a result of her mother and father instilling the value of excellence in her. Kobe, after all, coached Gianna and her teammates at his Mamba academy with the same drive that he carried as an NBA player.
“Gianna’s pretty easy to coach,” Bryant said in 2018 when asked about the dynamics between him and his daughter on the basketball court. “We haven’t had any issues of dad-daughter sort of thing,” he added. “She’s very competitive and she’s a hard worker, so there haven’t been any issues with that.”
It was not uncommon for Kobe Bryant to refer to his daughter at the “Mambacita” on his Instagram page. In fact, the retired NBA player referenced his daughter as such when sending well wishes on Gianna’s birthday last May. “Happy 13th birthday my Gigi,” Kobe wrote online. “I love you beyond measure baby #teen #daddysgirl #tauro #mambacita.”
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Photo: Kobe Bryant/Instagram