For six years, basketball great Kobe Bryant played along Pau Gasol on the Los Angeles Lakers. The two shined on the court and their families even became close — so close that Gasol recently named his new baby after Gianna, Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter who was killed along with her father during a helicopter crash in January.
Gasol posted on Instagram that he and his wife, Cat, had named their daughter to honor the Bryant family.
“Our little one has finally arrived!! The delivery went really well and we couldn’t be happier!! Elisabet Gianna Gasol, a very meaningful name for our super beautiful daughter!! #girldad,” he wrote
Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, was excited to welcome the baby into her extended family.
“My goddaughter is here!!!!” she wrote on Instagram, according to ESPN (Vanessa Bryant’s account is private).
Gasol replied, “We love you sis! You’re going to be the best Godmother to our Ellie Gianna.”
Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant died on January 26, along with seven other people, when their helicopter crashed. Kobe was 41 at the time.
In addition to Gianna, the Bryants have three other daughters: Natalia, 17, Bianka Bella, 3½, and 14-month-old Capri Kobe. The three surviving girls were seen smiling in a TikTok video earlier this week.
Vanessa Bryant has spoken openly about the pain of losing her daughter and her husband, who she had been with since she was 17. In August, Bryant posted for what would have been Kobe’s 42nd birthday.
“I miss your big hugs, your kisses, your smile, your loud ass deep laugh. I miss teasing you, making you laugh and bursting your bubble. I miss you sitting on my lap like my big baby that you are,” she wrote. “I think about your tenderness and patience all the time. I think about everything you would do in situations to help me deal with everything thrown my way.”
She said that her daughters have been a source of strength amid all the pain.
“Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I’ve been completely broken inside. As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are. They’re strong and resilient. I’m sure you’re proud of them. They put a smile on my face every day.”
Kobe and Gianna were traveling to a basketball tournament when their helicopter crashed. The accident also killed Payton Chester (13), Sarah Chester (46), Alyssa Altobelli (14) Keri Altobelli (46), John Altobelli (56) Christina Mauser (38) and Ara Zobayan (50) the pilot.
Kobe was well-known for being a “girl dad.” ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Elle Duncan recalled what Bryant told her about raising girls. At the time, Duncan was 8 months pregnant with her daughter.
“I asked him for advice on raising girls, seeing as though he quite famously had three at the time, and he said just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing,” Duncan said. “His third daughter, Bianka, was about a year-and-a-half old at the time, so I asked if he wanted more children, and he said that his wife, Vanessa, really wanted to try again for a boy but was sort of jokingly concerned that it would be another girl. And I was like, ‘Four girls, are you joking? What would you think? How would you feel?’ And without hesitation he said, ‘I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a ‘girl dad.’”
Kobe’s fourth daughter — as predicted — arrived soon after. She was less than a year old when Kobe died.
Now, with the birth of Elisabet Gianna, Gasol is ready to step in Kobe’s #girldad role.
“We had a tremendous connection, it’s quite evident,” Gasol said of Kobe in May. “He’ll be always present with me and with all of us, in certain degrees and different ways.”