Gianna Bryant’s Dream School Honours 13-Year-Old With Her Own Uconn Huskies Jersey
The University of Connecticut last night honoured Gianna Bryant with a special Huskies jersey that had the teenager’s No. 2 emblazoned on the front.
Gianna, 13, and her father Kobe Bryant, 41, were among nine people who died on Sunday, January 26, when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed near Calabasas, California.
The teenager one day dreamed of playing as a Husky herself, and often watched the women’s basketball team play at UConn with her dad.
At the game last night, the Huskies reserved a seat for the 13-year-old, placing her special jersey next to a bouquet of white roses and daisies tied with a blue bow. There was also a 24-second moment of silence that was observed in honour of Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 that fans are urging the NBA to retire.
The team’s Twitter account shared a photo of the tribute, writing alongside it:
Mambacita is forever a Husky
UConn used Gianna’s sporting nickname ‘Mambacita’ in their tribute, something her dad often called her because of her natural affinity for basketball, and that hinted at Kobe’s own nickname, the Black Mamba.
In fact, the retired NBA star had already trademarked the nickname, with the paperwork being filed on December 30 of last year. There were plans in place to put the name on an array of sportswear, including shirts, shorts, hats, jerseys, sweatpants, sweatshirts and hoodies.
The basketball team expressed their grief on Sunday after the news of Gianna and Kobe’s sudden, tragic deaths, saying the father and daughter ‘meant a lot to our program’. They tweeted: ‘Mamba Mentality will live on forever, but they are deeply missed.’
Gianna, fondly known as Gigi, was so set on being a Husky her dad had previously declared: ‘She is hellbent on UConn. Really,’ when asked by NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller if he would send her to UCLA.
Bryant was a friend of UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who recalled meeting Gianna a few years ago and said: ‘When she came up here on campus, if she could have stayed, I think she would have stayed.’
Auriemma told ESPN about the teenager’s passion for the game:
You could just see the look in her eyes. She was so excited. That’s what she aspired to be.
Kobe and Gianna are survived by Kobe’s wife Vanessa, and their three other daughters, Natalia, Bianca and Capri.
Our thoughts are with the loved ones of all those who died at this difficult time.
Rest in peace.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
CreditsUConn Women's Hoops/Twitter and 2 others
UConn Women's Hoops/Twitter