The memorial service of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, was about remembering two lives that were lost too soon. But it was also a celebration of daughters and their fathers.
“Kobe was the MVP of girl dads,” his wife Vanessa said during the memorial service.
In a conversation with Elle Duncan of ESPN before his death, Kobe shared his thoughts on being a girl dad. “Kobe said to me, girls are the best,” Duncan shared. “I asked him for advice on raising girls…he said just be grateful that you’ve been given this gift, girls are amazing… I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”
Her statements went viral.
There’s a perception sometimes that a man isn’t entirely complete if he doesn’t have a son, and this seems especially true for a world class athlete. But instead of being frustrated by having four daughters and no son to “carry on his legacy,” he relished in being a father of girls.
This extended to his support of women’s sports, especially women’s basketball. He was so devoted to encouraging female athletes that he coached his daughter Gianna’s basketball team. That one of the greatest basketball players in the world spent his time growing and supporting a basketball team filled with middle school girls shows immense dedication. As a former middle school girl, I know that wasn’t an easy task.
But he did it, and loved the opportunity to mentor young, budding basketball stars.
“How many fathers are inspired by Kobe to be fathers, to really be fathers the way a father is supposed to be,” Geno Auriemma, coach of UCONN women’s basketball, said at the memorial service.
Rob Pelinka, general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, talked about how on the helicopter shortly before the crash, Kobe was trying to help a young woman secure a baseball agency internship. “He clearly wanted to champion a bright future for her,” Pelinka said.
Being a girl dad isn’t easy. The teenage hormones are crazy, and fathers don’t always understand all the girly things like fashion, makeup and glitter but there’s an undeniably special relationship between fathers and daughters.
One of my favorite pictures of my dad and me is when I was probably about 18 months old. He’s standing behind me holding a golf club and I’m just in my diaper with my hair in a barrette. My mom entitled the picture, “Brittany’s first golf lesson from Daddy.” Though I didn’t really pick up golf until high school, I did play all four years on the school’s team. Part of the reason was that I enjoyed the game, but the other more important reason was that it was something my father and I could do together.
Kobe Bryant found immense joy in being the father of daughters. Hopefully, his legacy, though imperfect, will encourage other fathers to embrace their role as a “girl dad.”
Follow Brittany on Twitter @brittanyraymer.
Photo from ESPN on YouTube