Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, posted on Instagram that her daughter Gianna and her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester will be honorary picks in the 2020 WNBA Draft.
Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late Kobe Bryant, shared some special, touching news on Instagram Friday.
According to Bryant, her daughter Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester — three of the nine victims who died in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant in January — will be honorary selections in the 2020 WNBA Draft on Friday.
The draft will be held virtually due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In her Instagram caption, Bryant listed the three 13-year-old girls as the “class of 2024.”
The WNBA had previously announced it planned to honor the three girls whose lives were claimed in that tragic helicopter crash, and this is an incredibly moving way to do so.
Gianna, known as Gigi for short, was very clearly following in her father’s footsteps as a great basketball player with a strong mind for the game. She and her father Kobe were frequent spectators at NBA, WNBA and college basketball games, and there was no doubt in many people’s minds that her path would eventually lead to the WNBA.
Gianna’s teammates, Alyssa and Payton, were similarly known for their love of the game and played together on the same team coached by Bryant. Both wanted to play collegiate ball, with Altobelli hoping to attend the University of Oregon, according to ESPN.
Furthering the Oregon ties, the expected No. 1 pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu, was a friend of Kobe Bryant’s and spoke at the memorial service for him and his daughter Gigi.
2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for many reasons, but gestures like this can serve as powerful reminders of the healing, life-affirming aspect of sports. Even something as small as making these three girls honorary WNBA Draft selections is a stirring tribute to their passions and their lives that brought joy to those around them.