Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram to announce that the WNBA will honor her late daughter, Gianna Bryant, and her teammates, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, at tonight’s (April 17) WNBA Draft.
“Honorary Draft Picks:❤️ Gianna Bryant❤️ ❤️ Alyssa Altobelli and Peyton Chester❤️ class of 2020,” Vanessa captioned a promo video for the draft on Instagram.
In January, Gianna, Alyssa and Payton were tragically killed in a helicopter crash along with six other victims, including Kobe Bryant. The girls were on their way to a game at Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. Although the crash is still being investigated, the area was reportedly covered in heavy fog.
Gianna was a promising athlete who wanted to play for the Connecticut Huskies before moving into the WNBA. She and her teammates will be honored for being rising stars in women’s basketball.
Kobe will also be honored at the WNBA Draft. He frequently attended WNBA and women’s college basketball games with his daughter Gianna. Kobe was a passionate advocate of the league. He held an exclusive camp for WNBA players just weeks before he passed.
“How can we do a men’s camp and not a women’s one?” he asked the Mamba Academy staff.
Kobe treated the women the same as he treated the men who attended camp a few weeks prior. He hired female strength trainers, videographers, photographers and on-court trainers. Each player also took home Mamba Sports Academy gear.
Before their untimely deaths, Kobe was actively planning for his daughter’s future. He was in the process of trying to get “Mambacita” trademarked for Gianna.
According to TMZ, Kobe filed for the Mambacita trademark name in December. The documents revealed that he planned to market her nickname on sportswear, including shirts, shorts, hats, jerseys, sweatpants, sweatshirts and hoodies. Kobe affectionately called his daughter Mambacita on social media, acknowledging her star player status at his Mamba Academy and commending her skills.
Check out Vanessa’s post below.