Vanessa Bryant struggled via tears as she thanked the WNBA for making her daughter Gianna’s ‘dream come true’: being named an honorary draft choose.

Whereas it was an exciting event for the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation, it was additionally a time marked by sobriety. Throughout the night’s proceedings on April 17, ESPN introduced that the WNBA honored the recollections of basketball teammates Gianna “Gigi” BryantAlyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester after the helicopter accident that claimed the 13-year-olds’ lives on Jan. 26. Gigi’s mom Vanessa Bryant, 37 — wearing Kobe Bryant’s orange sweatshirt — shared an emotional video message in response to the WNBA naming her late daughter as an honorary draft choose.

“Thanks a lot for honoring my Gigi and choosing her to be an honorary draft choose this 12 months. It might’ve been a dream come true for her,” Vanessa stated, who was tearing up as she shared her gratitude. She continued, “She labored tirelessly each single day. She needed to be one of many best athletes of all time, identical to her daddy. So thanks. Thanks for honoring my little woman. Kobe and Gigi cherished the WNBA…that is [Kobe’s] sweatshirt…I need to congratulate all of this 12 months’s draft picks. So congratulations. Work onerous. By no means settle. Use that Mamba Mentality.”

Followers tuning into the WNBA Draft Decide didn’t know what to anticipate, however they knew Gianna can be honored alongside along with her fellow sportswomen. On the identical day, Gianna’s grieving mom, Vanessa, took to Instagram to share the emblem and promote the WNBA Draft Decide. “Honorary Draft Picks: Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Peyton Chester class of 2024,” Vanessa captioned the promo footage, with a string of coronary heart emojis strewn all through her caption. It was such a becoming strategy to keep in mind the younger women who misplaced their lives and dreamed of creating a distinction within the WNBA.

Along with the honorary draft, the WNBA additionally introduced the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, which can be awarded to its first recipient by Vanessa Bryant through the NBA All-Star 2021 in Indianapolis. “The Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award will honor their legacy and replicate Kobe’s dedication to mentoring the following era of gamers, selling the sport and giving again to the group,” the WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated. The award will acknowledge those that are advocates of girls’s and women’ basketball.

Previous to their deaths, Gianna’s well-known father, legendary LA Laker Kobe, spoke candidly with Jimmy Kimmel about how his daughter was prepared to hold on his NBA legacy. “Followers will come as much as me and he or she’ll be standing subsequent to me and so they’ll say, “Hey, you’ve gotta have a boy! You and V gotta have a boy to hold in your custom, the legacy,’” Kobe recounted to Jimmy. Nevertheless it was Gianna who ardently informed her father’s followers. “Oi, I received this.” Being the proud #GirlDad that he was, Kobe would inform his daughter, “That’s proper! You bought it!”

Information of Kobe, Gianna, her teammates and different who have been tragically killed within the helicopter accident close to Calabasas broke on Jan. 26 — roughly three months in the past. Within the time since, followers, family and friends have memorialized Gianna and Kobe with shifting tributes. Gianna and Kobe’s memorial service, which passed off on Feb. 24, gave Vanessa the chance to recollect her beloved husband and candy daughter simply how she needed. And since, she’s saved their reminiscence alive. with stunning messages.

“He [Kobe] solely received to take pleasure in 3 years and 9 months of retirement. We had 2 extra daughters, he gained an Oscar, he opened Granity studios, he grew to become a 5x finest promoting creator,” Vanessa shared in an Instagram submit she made on April 13, Mamba Day. “[He] coached Gianna’s basketball crew in that point. She labored onerous and gave her all 7 days per week identical to her daddy. I want I may again to that morning, daily. I want they’d a traditional native sport on 1/26. Life actually isn’t honest.”