As people are still coming to grips with the sudden and untimely deaths of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash that killed seven others, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the University of Connecticut will honor them in the wake of tragedy.
It was announced back in December that Bryant was one of the 2020 Hall of Fame nominees, alongside Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Tim Hardaway, and Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues. Now Kobe has been confirmed as a first-ballot enshrinement to be inducted along with Duncan and Garnett, according to USA Today. The ceremony will be held in August in Springfield, Mass.
HOF chairman and former USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo says Bryant’s induction is “expected to be the most epic class ever with Kobe, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett. Kobe will be honored the way he should be.”
Bryant’s induction into the Hall of Fame is most certainly appropriate. The 41-year old was a five-time NBA champion, 11-time All-NBA first-team selection, 2008 MVP, two-time Finals MVP, 18-time All-Star and four-time All-Star MVP who spent his 20-year career with one team: the Los Angeles Lakers. He also won gold medals with USA Basketball at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.
Meanwhile Kobe’s daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant will be receiving her own honor from her dream school, the University of Connecticut.
According to People, at the UConn women’s basketball game Monday night, a seat was reserved on the bench for Gianna, who wanted to attend the college and play ball as a Husky herself. The team’s Twitter account shared a photo of the tribute to Gianna, which included a specially-created Huskies No. 2 jersey for Gianna, who died at just 13 years old.
“Mambacita is forever a Husky,” the team wrote alongside the photo, using Gianna’s nickname, for which Kobe filed a trademark just one month before their deaths, according to People.
According to the Hartford Courant, Kobe said in 2018 that Gianna was “hellbent on UConn.”
“My daughter loves Gabby Williams, absolutely loves Gabby, loves [all of them]. She watches their interviews, watches how they play and learns—not just in wins, but in tough losses, how they conduct themselves. It’s great, as a parent, to be able to see my daughter pull inspiration from them.”
On Sunday, the night of the crash, the Huskies shared their grief over Kobe and Gianna’s deaths on Twitter saying, “Kobe and Gianna meant a lot to our program. Our thoughts are with the Bryant family,” the team tweeted along with a photo of the father and daughter wearing matching UConn apparel. “Mamba Mentality will live on forever, but they are deeply missed.”
On Monday, Paulo Coelho, the author of The Alchemist, joined in on honoring Kobe and his family by deleting the draft of a children’s book he was writing with Kobe.
“I deleted the draft because it didn’t make any sense to publish without him,” Coelho told the Associated Press. “It wouldn’t add anything relevant to him or his family.”
“That doesn’t stop me from writing someday about things I learned from Kobe and how much of a larger than life person he was,” Coelho said. “But the children’s book did not make sense anymore.”
Kobe Bryant’s death, along with his daughter Gianna’s, remains a hard pill for the world to swallow. It can be difficult finding the right way to memorialize them in a way that is respectful and honors the people they were in life. It warms the heart to see all that is being done and I hope it continues.