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‘I’m a girl dad’: Tribute by ESPN’s Elle Duncan highlights the special relationship between Kobe and Gianna Bryant, #GirlDad goes viral on Twitter

Former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant attend an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

ESPN’s Elle Duncan highlighted just how special the relationship Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna was by sharing a beautiful tribute on SportsCenter.

Duncan met Kobe backstage at an ESPN event in New York and went up to the Lakers legend to ask for a photo.

“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,’” Kobe said.

Duncan replied that she was having a girl and Bryant high-fived her.

“Girls are the best,” Kobe said.

Duncan asked Bryant for advice on raising girls, as Kobe had three at the time.

“He said, ‘Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift, because girls are amazing.’ His third daughter, Bianca, 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 jokingly concerned that it would be another girl. I was like, ‘Four girls, are you joking, what would you think, how would you feel? Without hesitation, he said, ‘I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.’”

“When it came to sports, he said that his oldest daughter was an accomplished volleyball player and the youngest was a toddler, so TBD. 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,” Duncan recalls.

That middle daughter was GiGi, who was a star basketball player in her own right, died alongside Kobe on Sunday.

“When I reflect on this tragedy and that half an hour that I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved the most — being a dad. Being a girl dad.”

After the video of Duncan’s words went viral, the hashtag #GirlDad was trending on Twitter, with fathers sharing stories of just how much their daughters mean to them.