Gianna Bryant and her teammates, Alyssa Altobelli & Payton Chester, were selected as honorary selections for the 2020 WNBA Draft. Gigi and her father, Kobe Bryant, were also honored with an award. More about the draft, plus an emotional message from Vanessa Bryant inside…
Gianna “Gigi” Bryant and her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester were among the nine people killed in a helicopter crash back in January that also claimed the life of Kobe Bryant. Now, the WNBA is honoring the young basketball stars in a major way.
The three ladies were named honorary selections in the WNBA draft last night, which was held virtually due to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to her mom Vanessa Bryant, Gigi is the youngest to be drafted in the WNBA at 13-years-old. Vanessa gathered up the strength to post a video of herself (wearing Kobe’s sweatshirt) to thank the WNBA and to share how this would have been one of Gigi’s greatest accomplishments if she were still here.
“It would have been a dream come true for her,” Vanessa said in the video. “She worked tirelessly every single day, she wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, just like her daddy.”
“So thank you,” she continued. “Thank you for honoring my little girl. Kobe and Gigi loved the WNBA… I want to congratulate all of this year’s draft picks. Work hard. Never settle. Use that Mamba Mentality.”

It was no secret Gigi wanted to follow in her dad’s footsteps and become the best player in the WNBA. She also had dreams of playing basketball at the University of Connecticut.
Check out her emotional message below:
 

 

 
 

 

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Youngest draft pick
A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 5:25pm PDT

 
Vanessa also paid tribute to her baby girl:
 

 

 
 

 

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I’m so proud of you, Gigi. God I miss you baby. You deserved to live a long, healthy and happy life. I wish I could hold you and tell you how proud I am of you. You’re the best, baby girl. Mommy loves and misses you more than I could ever express. @WNBA #2 Gianna “Gigi” Bryant Youngest draft pick My “mambacita” a.k.a. Wings
A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 18, 2020 at 12:18am PDT

 
At the beginning of the draft, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert honored Gianna, Alyssa and Payton by announcing their names and showing jerseys with their last names on them.
 
 

 

 
 

 

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Gianna Maria-Onor’e Bryant #GigiBryant #Mambacita #Wings You did it! Mommy’s proud and happy for you mamacita! We love you Gigi! @wnba #2 Youngest draft pick
A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 4:47pm PDT

 
Also, Kobe & Gianna were honored with a special award. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced the new Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award. The inaugural award will recognize “an individual or group who has made significant contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels.”
“Kobe was an incredible champion of women’s basketball and Gianna shared his passion and dedication to our game,” Engelbert said in a statement. “The Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award will honor their legacy and reflect Kobe’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of players, promoting the game and giving back to the community.”

Peep the clip below:

 

 
 

 

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#repost @wnba ・・・ The WNBA pays tribute to the lives of Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester by selecting them as honorary draftees in the #WNBADraft 2020.
A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 8:44pm PDT

 
 

 

 
 

 

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A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 9:05pm PDT

 
Oregon basketball star Sabrina Ionescu – who was friends with Gianna & Kobe and spoke at their memorial – was selected by New York Liberty, making her the No. 1 overall draft pick.
 

 

 
 

 

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Congratulations @sabrina_i #1 pick #mambamentality
A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 17, 2020 at 9:00pm PDT

 
Los Angeles Lakers baller LeBron James was tuned in and congratulated the ladies: 
 
Watching @WNBA draft! Lot of women dreams coming true. Salute and congrats to you all! #StriveforGreatness
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 17, 2020
 
The Mamba Mentality will live on!
 
BONUS:
 

 

 
 

 

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My king, my heart, my best friend. Happy 19th wedding anniversary baby. I miss you so much. I wish you were here to hold me in your arms. I love you.
A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 18, 2020 at 10:00am PDT

 
Today is Kobe & Vanessa’s 19th wedding anniversary. She paid tribute to him on IG while commemorating their love.
 

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My LOVE My HEART
A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant) on Apr 18, 2020 at 9:53am PDT

Photo: Tinseltown/Shutterstock.com