UConn Pays Tribute to Gigi, Kobe Bryant Ahead of Exhibition vs. Team USA

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Ahead of UConn's Monday night exhibition against Team USA, the Huskies paid tribute to the death Kobe Bryant, Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the other seven people who died in Sunday's helicopter crash. 

Gianna, known by many as Gigi, told her father she wanted to play for UConn. The Huskies honored her Monday night with her own jersey. 

There was a 24-second moment of silence before tipoff and the teams took intentional violations to open the game, to honor Bryant.

News of the death of Kobe and his daughter produced a wave of shock throughout the sports world. Team USA forward, and UConn alum Breanna Stewart, was sitting in the hallway of her hotel on Sunday, looking at her phone, when she learned of the news. 

Stewart said, "This can’t be true. This can’t be true," according to Sports Illustrated's Laken Litman. 

According to Litman, Stewart quickly received countless texts from family and friends: “Did you see what happened with Kobe?"

Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and his daughter, Alyssa, and wife, Keri, were also aboard the helicopter that crashed and killed nine people

The helicopter went down in the hills of Calabasas and a fire broke out. The crash occurred around 10 a.m. local time and the fire made it difficult for firefighters and emergency personnel to get to the aircraft, according to the city of Calabasas. Nobody on the ground was hurt.

The Lakers have not played since Bryant's death. The NBA announced Monday evening that Tuesday night's game against the Clippers would be postponed and rescheduled for a later date.

Stewart, the 2018 WNBA MVP, missed all of the 2019 season after rupturing her right Achilles tendon last April during the EuroLeague championship game. She is making her first appearance in game action on Monday.

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