Gianna Bryant’s school retired her basketball jersey in a sweet tribute to the eighth grader and her mom is sharing video
On January 26th, NBA great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a tragic helicopter crash along with seven other people. In the days since, tributes have poured in for Kobe from every corner of the globe, celebrating his career and legacy as one of the most storied professional basketball players of all time. And at her school, Gianna is being remembered too. Her peers and teachers spoke about how much they miss her now that she’s gone during a tribute where they retired her basketball jersey, and Vanessa Bryant is posting videos on Instagram from her daughter’s memorial.
It’s hard to comprehend the pain Vanessa is feeling after losing both her husband and one of her four kids to a horrific tragedy, but it’s clear that she’s committed to remembering her lost loved ones however possible. From the news that she’s asked Staples Center to catalogue and send everything fans left in memory of her husband and daughter to her own heartbreaking words in recent Instagram posts, we see a mother and wife grieving. Now, she’s proudly posting the kind words and stories Gianna’s friends and teachers from Harbor Day School in Newport Beach shared about her.
“My Gigi. I love you! I miss you. You’ve taught us all that no act of kindness is ever too small. Mommy is still and will ALWAYS be so proud of you mamacita,” she wrote. The school allowed several speakers to share their memories of Gianna, including both teachers and students.
“She will be the last person to wear number two for the Seahawk basketball team,” said a school official who spoke about Gianna’s passion for basketball. He struggled to get the words out as he held back tears, as I imagine the entire gymnasium was also doing. The number two jersey will now hang in the gym in memory of Gianna.
Girls who played basketball with Gianna sang Maroon 5’s “Memories” in tribute to her and if there was a dry eye in the room after their heartfelt performance, I’d be stunned.
Gianna’s former adviser and music teacher, Yunga Webb, spoke of the teen’s humility in her speech. “She never came to school and bragged about anything,” she told the audience. “She was one of the most humble people I’ve ever known.”
“She didn’t need to brag, just needed to be a light wherever she stood,” Webb said. “She elevated the eighth-grade class. She makes us better — she made us better and she makes us better.”
Webb also shared a heartbreaking detail about how Gianna’s school friends are keeping her memory alive during roll call every morning. “We (still) call her name. And when we call her name, I hear 40-plus kids say ‘here,’” she said through tears. “In honor of her. Because she’s always with us.”
Before sharing the videos from the tribute, Vanessa posted a tear-jerking message to her little girl. “My Gianna. God I miss you. I’ve been so lucky to have woken up to see your gorgeous face and amazing smile for 13 years. Wish it would’ve been until my last breath. Mommy loves you to the moon and back. Infinity plus 1,” she writes.
It looks like Vanessa has untold numbers of people grieving this enormous loss right alongside her while remembering what an incredible person her daughter was. Hopefully in the coming months, that will help hold her up in some small way as she learns to live without one of her babies.
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