On January 26, 2020, basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter and future basketball star, Gianna, were among nine passengers whose lives were taken in a deadly helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif.
The death shook the national sports world, but it hit hard in the University of Connecticut sports community. When the news broke of the Bryants’ deaths, the heartbreak was felt 3,000 miles away on the UConn campus.
Two years later, we remember those passengers, specifically one young star who had a special connection with the UConn women’s basketball team.
Gianna Maria Onore Bryant. She always wanted to be a UConn Husky.
She wanted to participate in the team who, at the time, had a record 11 championship trophies.
The Bryants attended UConn basketball games as fans. In a tweet by former ESPN journalist Arash Markazi, he shared a conversation between Kobe Bryant and NBA legend Reggie Miller, who tried to convince Kobe to send his daughter to UCLA.
Kobe told Miller that his daughter was “hellbent on UConn.” Gianna had plans to play at the University of Connecticut and head to the WNBA.
UConn made the most sense. The women’s basketball team has always been a standard of excellence in the game for many years. The Bryants held onto that quality.
The UConn women’s basketball team paid a tribute to Gianna Bryant the Monday after the helicopter crash prior to its exhibition game by draping a jersey over a chair decorated with a bouquet of flowers. There was a 24-second moment of silence in honor of the Bryants, nodding to the No. 24 that Kobe wore during his playing time with the Lakers.
The Bryant duo meant a lot to the UConn program. To commemorate the two-year anniversary, the UConn women’s basketball page shared a photo of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, sporting UConn gear.
In a follow-up tweet, the team shared a heartwarming letter from Gianna, with the words, “When you think you can’t, UConn.” bolded.
Mambacita will forever be a Husky.