NBA star Kobe Bryant is being remembered for his love of being a "girl dad", days after he and his daughter Gianna, "Gigi", were killed in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles, along with seven others.
As well as Gigi, 13, Bryant, 41, was dad to daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and 7-month-old Capri, with wife Vanessa.
Despite his on-court successes, Bryant previously told anchor Maria Shriver that fatherhood was the achievement he was most proud of. "It's my greatest accomplishment," he said last year. I've learned so much, but perhaps the most profound thing has been the fierce, unconditional love you have for your children when you become a parent. I'm blessed to have had that experience four times now and there's nothing more powerful in this world."
Bryant's love and pride of being a dad of daughters was explored in a touching tribute by ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor Elle Duncan. On Tuesday, Duncan shared her memory of running into the father-of-four while she was eight months pregnant with her daughter.
"Girls are the best," he told her.
When Ms Duncan asked Bryant for advice on raising girls, his response was simple. "He said 'just be grateful that you've been given that gift because girls are amazing,'" Duncan recalled.
At the time, Bryant's youngest daughter Bianka was a year-and-a-half old. "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," Duncan says. "And I was like, 'Four girls, are you joking? What would you think? How would you feel?'"
During their chat, the proud father also spoke of his daughters' achievements.
"When it came to sports, he said that his oldest daughter was an accomplished volleyball player and that the youngest was a toddler, so TBD," Duncan said. "But that middle one, he said, that middle one was a monster. She's a beast. She's better than I was at her age. She's got it. That middle one, of course, was Gigi."
Duncan continues: "When I reflect on this tragedy and that half an hour that I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose it's the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved the most: being a dad," she said. "Being a 'girl dad.'"
On Instagram, Duncan added: I'm so sorry that 4th girl won't know her dad."
Following her segment, on Twitter, the hashtag #girldad trended as proud parents shared their own stories.
"There really is something magical about girls and their dads," wrote Chrissy Teigen.
The last time I remember John crying, aside from this week, was when Luna wrapped her little finger around his at the hospital when she was born. There really is something magical about girls and their dads. Thank you, @elleduncanESPN https://t.co/P4VL5Z8dC4 pic.twitter.com/hgWWB0DHcB— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) January 28, 2020
This is my daughter Rory in 2016. Mama did a special photo shoot for Father's Day. Teary-eyed as I'm about to send this because I was hoping one day I'd take her to see Gigi and tell her about my sports hero who just so happened to be her dad. #GirlDad pic.twitter.com/Dulla9zuCb— Dan Goodman🧢 (@dangoody27) January 28, 2020
We had our son and were then blessed with triplet daughters. It’s been quite the #girldad ride. I’m so sorry Kobe didn’t get to see Gigi, and his other girls, as an adult. The work of parenting daughters (and sons) turns into pride and admiration. Thanks for telling your story. pic.twitter.com/qbpbbKMtiL— Chris Bentley (@Chrisbdad) January 29, 2020
Duncan also took to Twitter to thank fans for their outpouring of support following her story about Kobe.
"For all those proud fathers who still have their girls to love on, can you flood my timeline with pics of you and your flock. Honestly, I need it as much as anyone right now."