I also grew up with a dad that loved basketball.
I can imagine his utter surprise when my mom popped out not one, not two, but three girls.
He probably wondered where his point guard was, his power forward, his center, etc. Where was the basketball team that was going to follow in his footsteps and play college ball?
But like you, my sisters and I said, "we got this."
My dad coached all three of our CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) basketball teams along with the outdoor summer leagues that we played. When your dad coaches your basketball team it just takes the relationship you have with him to a whole other level. He is no longer just your dad, he is your coach and that word takes on a whole new meaning. Basketball camp after basketball camp he was always there to pick us up and asked us what we learned. I remember my dad being as devastated as I was when I was cut from my middle school team only to then be beaming with joy when I made the varsity basketball team in high school. My losses and successes affected him just as much as they did me.
As you know, a powerful connection is formed between a father and a daughter when they can bond over a shared passion. It's as if you have your own secret language. My dad taught my sisters and me to love the game he loved, the same way I'm sure your dad did. A 'girl dads' love just hits a little different.
Kobe and Gigi courtside breaking down the game :clipboard: pic.twitter.com/FxqSjVx6ew
— ESPN (@espn) December 22, 2019
While your life was tragically cut short you've already accomplished so much. In your short time, you were such a great role model for others. Your story matters and not just because you were Kobe's daughter. You were showing the world that you didn't need to be a boy to live up to the legacy people had set for you. You were creating a legacy of your own and if your passing has taught us anything it's that you have succeeded. You will be remembered as the 13-year-old girl who had so much passion and dedication for the sport you loved.
You have exemplified the "Mamba Mentality." You showed other girls your age that dreaming of playing professional basketball is not only designated for boys. While others may say you weregoing to carry on the family legacy, I believe you already have.
Mambacita is forever a Husky :blue_heart: pic.twitter.com/3wdAbdK0Ye
— UConn Women's Hoops (@UConnWBB) January 27, 2020
While it may have been a bit since I picked up a basketball, it's reassuring knowing you were out there helping to inspire a generation of girls to pursue their passion of playing their favorite sport and teaching them to never give up on their dream no matter what anyone else says.
From one former basketball player to another, thank you.