In the midst of mourning the loss of NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, there was a positive that emerged from this sudden tragedy, the hashtag #girldad.
Bryant, 41, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others were in a fatal helicopter crash in Calabasas, California Jan. 26.
The flight was enroute to commence a basketball camp at the Mamba Sport Academy in Newbury Park, California. The Los Angeles Times reported the full names, included photographs and short biographies of each victim. Here is a list of the victims from the crash:
- Kobe Bryant, 41
- Gianna Bryant, 13
- John Altobelli, 56
- Keri Altobelli, 46
- Alyssa Altobelli, 13,
- Sarah Chester, 45,
- Payton Chester, 13
- Christina Mauser, 38
- Ara Zobayan, 50
While news coverage has increased focus on all the victims, so has the conversation on how to remember Kobe Bryant.
In the last couple of days, there has been a divide with how to remember the totality of Bryant’s legacy. Some have focused on his career-inspiring accomplishments, others on his 2003 sexual assault case or have tried to focus on both. Merely hours after the reports of these people’s deaths or maybe a couple days afterwards, just to give everyone time to process the situation? However, I noticed the debate on social media: The question is not about should we talk about it, but when should we talk about it? Well, that depends on the person.
There are many conflicting emotions surrounding this event. People are entitled to feel what they feel; and nobody should tell them otherwise. Some believe not speaking now is a call for silence. However, it could be a plea for process and reflection. Everybody should take time to process. Bryant’s legacy is complex, but his legacy does make one feel something.
That being said, one positive thing that some can agree on is #girldad, well… I hope there is a positive consensus.
How #Girldad Started?
Twitter user, Gian Cruz (@gianorama), tweeted a video of Elle Duncan, an ESPN reporter, sharing a story of her first encounter with Bryant.
The Kobe story Elle Duncan shared on Sportscenter was so heartfelt and heartbreaking, more people need to see it.
— Gian Cruz (@gianorama) January 28, 2020
At the time, Duncan was 8-months pregnant with her daughter. According to the video and full transcript published on Yahoo!Sports, she stated:
“And I saw him, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s Kobe. I gotta get a picture for the ‘Gram. … I didn’t get it for a few minutes, because, as I approached him, he immediately commented on my rather large eight-month pregnant belly. ‘How are you? How close are you? What are you having?’ ‘A girl,’ I said, and he then high-fived me. ‘Girls are the best.’”
Later in the conversation, Duncan asked for advice on raising girls. Bryant stated, “Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing.”
Bryant was known for having a close relationship with his three daughters: Natalia, 17, Gianna, 13, and Bianka, 3. In June 2019, Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, gave birth to a baby girl, Capri Kobe. He frequently posted photos of his family on various social media channels. However, he had a close bond with Gianna (a.k.a., “Gigi) over basketball. Since his retirement, Bryant was coaching her team, Newport Mesa, according to The New York Post.
There is even a meme with Bryant talking to Gianna while the Brooklyn Nets played the Atlanta Hawks Dec. 21, 2019. It seemed like he was giving advice to Gianna to help with her games. It was said on various media channels he believed she would carry his basketball legacy.
The Hopeful Outlook of #Girldad
Many focused on Bryant’s legacy as a father once Duncan’s story became viral. About 81,000 social media users (mainly from Twitter) shared and celebrated their own father-daughter stories. The overall sentiment score was 82.9 percent positive, which demonstrated #girldad is a hopeful outlook to a tragic situation.
Honestly, dads with daughters have three sides: protective bear, teddy bear (whether they admit it or not) and/or a big kid. I am speaking from personal experience since I was raised by a girl dad. Like what many fathers mentioned on social media, my dad raised my sister and I to be strong, independent, formidable women. Additionally, he not only demonstrated how we should be treated, but how we should treat other people. I can attest there is a special bond between a father and his daughter. However, I am also bias to this hashtag.
In conclusion, whether you see Bryant as a saint, sinner or both, his death is resurfacing emotions and pivotal moments in our past we need to process. I encourage all to reflect and embrace whatever emotions resurface.