UConn Pays Tribute To Gianna Bryant With A Memorial On Their Bench

by Christina Marfice
Maddie Meyer/Getty

Gianna Bryant dreamed of playing for UConn, so its women’s basketball team honored her at a game last night

Before she died, Gianna Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, was a rising star on the basketball court, just as her father had once been. Her favorite team was the University of Connecticut Huskies, and she dreamed of taking the court to play for them one day. And just as she dreamed of playing for the Huskies, many Huskies fans dreamed of watching her play for the team.

Now, the world is reeling after the news of the Calabasas helicopter crash that killed Gianna Bryant, her father, and seven others en route to a Black Mamba basketball camp in Thousand Oaks. And ahead of their exhibition game against Team USA last night, UConn created a touching tribute to Gianna, leaving her a space on their players’ bench adorned with a No. 2 jersey and a bouquet of white flowers.

Before the start of the game, the arena fell silent for 24 seconds to honor Gianna and Kobe Bryant.

Last spring, Bryant and her father attended a UConn game, where they cheered on Gianna’s favorite team. It’s heart-wrenching to know that this 13-year-old baby will never get to live out her dream of playing on that court.

The fatal helicopter crash happened over the weekend, and while it was reported early on that Kobe had been one of the people on board, it wasn’t until later that we learned that Gianna Bryant had died alongside her father. It made the heartbreaking blow even more difficult to take, knowing that such a young, promising life had been lost in the tragedy as well.

Gianna and Kobe Bryant are survived by Vanessa, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, as well as Gianna’s three sisters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. While the entire world is in shock and mourning the loss of one of the greatest basketball players of all time, nothing we feel can compare to what Vanessa and her girls must be going through. We just hope that tributes like this one can help ease the pain, even a tiny bit.