SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Rising girl's basketball star Gianna 'Gigi' Bryant along with two of her teammates were honored Friday night and named 2020 WNBA honorary draft selections.
The names of Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, and Payton Chester were read ahead of the draft's other picks in a moment that also paid tribute to the late NBA commissioner David Stern and Bryant's father, NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
"These athletes represented the future of the WNBA," said league commissioner Cathy Engelbert. "They represented the next generation of stars in our league, maybe what might have been called the 'Mambacita Generation."
Engelbert gave each girl a player's introduction as images of their jerseys inscribed with their last names, numbers, and the WNBA logo were shown on the screen. The announcement was followed by words from the families of the three players.
"It would have been a dream come true for her. She worked tirelessly, every single day. She wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, just like her daddy," Vanessa Bryant said.
Gigi Bryant, 13, died in a helicopter crash in the Calabasas mountains on the morning of Jan. 26. while en route to a basketball game at her father's Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks. The crash also claimed the lives of eight others, including Kobe Bryant, Altobelli (13), and Chester (13).
The teen was quickly coming into her own as a basketball player, showing the hoops world and social media that she possessed a skillset and fierce determination on the court that was almost similar to her famous father’s.
"Gianna Maria-Onor’e Bryant #GigiBryant #Mambacita #Wings ❤️You did it! 🙏🏽Mommy’s proud and happy for you mamacita! We love you Gigi! 😘 @wnba 🏀🎉#2," Vanessa Bryant later wrote on her Instagram account.
Kobe Bryant, 41, will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this summer. Mamba, as Bryant was called by adoring fans and basketball players, led his teams to five NBA championships and was awarded NBA MVP in 2008 and NBA Finals MVP in both 2009 and 2010.
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