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Remembering Kobe Bryant, the Family Man

Kobe Bryant died in a Calabasas, Calif. helicopter crash Sunday morning at the age of 41. Daughter Gianna “Gigi,” 13, was among those killed in the helicopter crash, according to officials. The pair was reportedly en route to Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., for one of Gigi’s travel basketball games, alongside another parent and child. There were nine fatalities in total, according to AP.

Known as one of the NBA’s all-time greats, Bryant made the NBA All-Star Game twice over the course of his 20 years in the league. He won five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and one league MVP before retiring from basketball in 2016.

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant, Natalia Bryant, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant. Vanessa Bryant, from left, Kobe Bryant, Natalia Bryant and Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant arrive at the world premiere of "A Wrinkle in Time" at the El Capitan Theatre, in Los AngelesWorld Premiere of "A Wrinkle in Time", Los Angeles, USA - 26 Feb 2018
(L-R): Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant, Natalia Bryant and Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant at the “Wrinkle in Time” premiere in 2018.
CREDIT: Jordan Strauss/Shutterstock

Outside of the NBA, Bryant was a dedicated husband of Vanessa and father to four girls; in addition to Gigi, they include Capri Kobe, Natalia Diamante and Bianka Bella.

Many big names took to social media to remember Bryant as the quintessential family man. “As I scrolled through Kobe’s feed, and Alex and I talk memories and moments we remember about him … this is the truth that rings out the loudest … family is what matters most,” Jennifer Lopez wrote on Instagram. “We are all feeling sadness from this loss, but all I can think of is that it is a grain of sand compared to what Vanessa must going through right now. I am sending all of my love and praying for you, your children and the other families involved in today’s tragic turn of events. The most unfair thing in life is to lose a child and husband on the same day. … Kobe, you meant so much to so many and we will miss you forever. Thank you for your work ethic, your inspiration and your heart.”

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Family. As I scrolled through Kobe’s feed, and Alex and I talk memories and moments we remember about him … this is the truth that rings out the loudest … family is what matters most. We are all feeling sadness from this loss, but all I can think of is that it is a grain of sand compared to what Vanessa must going through right now. I am sending all of my love and praying for you, your children and the other families involved in today’s tragic turn of events. The most unfair thing in life is to lose a child and husband on the same day. Vanessa, I pray for your strength and that God guides you each step of the way through this unimaginable heartbreak. To the other families who are suffering from this unthinkable tragedy, may God be with you all. Kobe you meant so much to so many and we will miss you forever. Thank you for your work ethic, your inspiration and your heart. #hero #legend #husband #father 😢🙏🏼💔

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After retiring from the NBA, Bryant stayed near the basketball court through his role as coach to his daughters. Known as “Mambacita” in reference to her father’s nickname, Gigi had already garnered national attention for her impressive fadeaway shot.

Ever the proud father, Bryant often took to social media to show off Gigi’s hoops skills.

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Go Gigi aka Viva aka the mambacita #2

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Coaching his girls’ teams was one of Bryant’s proudest roles in his post-NBA life.

“A valuable lesson that I can teach them is what it means to pursue excellence and the commitment level that comes with that,” he told People of being a coach in a 2017 interview. “They’re having a blast. They’ve gotten extremely, extremely good over the course of the last year and are continuing to work and get better, man. It’s been fun.”

Bryant loved having all girls, telling People: ““It’s pretty cool for me ’cause it’s Daddy’s little princesses’.”

Shaquille O’Neal said in a tweet, “Kobe was so much more than an athlete; he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own, and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah.“

In his post-NBA life, Bryant continued to sit courtside, often joined by Gigi. Being surrounded by women, Bryant was an advocate for women basketball stars, telling CNN earlier this month that “there are a couple of players who could play in the NBA right now.”

Bryant added that female ballers ”Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore [and] Elena Della Donne” all “could certainly keep up” with the pace of the NBA. He harbored hope that Gigi could one day make it to basketball’s highest level.

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