In light of the recent tragedy that rocked the entire sports world, people paid their respects to the late great Kobe Bryant in many ways. Whether it was NBA athletes taking 24 second and 8 second violations at the beginning of games or fans posting on social media their favorite Mamba moments. My personal favorite was the trending hashtag #GirlDad. Ever since retiring from the sport of basketball in 2016 Kobe Bryant seized that opportunity and embraced the role of being a father…just a father no sports and no distractions. Bryant was the father of 4 beautiful girls Natalia 17, Gianna 13, Bianca 3, and Capri, about 7 months old. Lebron James said it best “With all the success he (Bryant) has had in 20 years of basketball…these last 3 years were the happiest I’ve seen him.”
“I would have 5 more girls if I could. I am a girl dad” -Kobe Bryant
#GirlDad for me goes beyond just a hashtag, or a trend. I see it as a movement towards something bigger than us. Kobe Bryant, being the athlete that he was and the father that he was has helped lay the foundation as an ally to women in sports. Growing up, I played soccer and basketball my whole life, and I looked up to so many male basketball players and soccer players. Kobe Bryant being one of them. As I got older and more passionate about each sport, I found myself looking for a female player in either sport to look up to. It wasn’t until I started playing competitively in 5th grade that I even knew there was a WNBA because of that I became such a huge fan of women like Diana Taurasi. I also became a fan of Abby Wambach and these women changed my perspective of sports forever.
“There’s no better way to learn than to watch the pros do it. The WNBA is a beautiful game to watch. -Kobe Bryant
For Kobe Bryant to be the basketball player of his caliber, he was a huge advocate and champion of women’s athletics. He used his social media platform to promote their game. He was a fan of it all. Just last year, he was at attendance at the Women’s National Team Victory Tour in California. He took his 3 oldest daughters to the game where they met players like Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe, the pink haired QUEEN! He said “We wouldn’t miss it, kidding me. would not miss it.” to Allie Long while she greeted his daughters before the game. That moment, and seeing him rep the USWNT jersey is a moment I will never forget.
So, when I see #GirlDad on my feed, I see the images of Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant sitting court-side at a University of Connecticut women’s basketball game, or a United States Women’s National Team soccer game or finally Kobe himself, arguably the greatest male athlete of all time, coaching a 6th grade girls AAU basketball team. We lost not another voice and advocate for women athletes, but when I think #GirlDad I’ll think of my dad telling me that I can be anything I want to be and as long as I work hard and put my mind to it…I can do it.