An ESPN anchor’s emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna has prompted people to share their own personal stories of the special bonds between fathers and daughters with the hashtag #girldad.
On Sunday, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, that also claimed the lives of seven others.
After news broke of the basketball legend’s death, ESPN anchor Elle Duncan recounted a time she’d met Bryant during an event in New York City two years prior, where he'd shared what being a father meant to him.
According to Duncan, who was eight months pregnant at the time, she’d approached Bryant hoping to take a picture with him - but the former Lakers player had started asking questions about the baby she was expecting.
When Bryant learned that Duncan was having a girl, he responded: “Girls are the best,” before offering some advice for raising girls.
“Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing,” the NBA star said.
As the conversation turned to the prospect of Bryant having a fourth daughter with his wife Vanessa, “without hesitation,” he told the sports commentator: “I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”
Duncan then recalled how she and Bryant had discussed the talents his daughters possessed, tearing up as she told viewers that the basketball legend had told her that “his oldest daughter was an accomplished volleyball player, and that the youngest was a toddler so TBD”.
“But that middle one was a ‘monster. She’s a beast. She’s better than I was at her age. She’s got it,’” Duncan remembered Bryant saying of his daughter Gianna, known as Gigi, and her basketball talent.
“When I reflect on this tragedy and that half hour I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose that 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,” Duncan concluded.
Shortly after Duncan’s touching tribute, #girldad began trending on Twitter as people began sharing stories and pictures of what the term girl dad means to them, in memory of Bryant and Gianna.
“This beautiful tribute by Elle Duncan hits hard, especially as a father of three daughters myself,” one dad wrote. “I cherish every moment with them.”
Another said: “I have two amazing daughters and my wife will often ask me if we could guarantee a son, would I have a third? Never. I’d rather have three girls any day. Total #girldad 1000 per cent.”
Among those sharing their stories was Chrissy Teigen, who shared a touching memory involving her husband John Legend and the couple’s daughter Luna.
“The last time I remember John crying, aside from this week, was when Luna wrapped her little finger around his at the hospital when she was born,” Teigen wrote. “There really is something magical about girls and their dads. Thank you, Elle Duncan.”
On Tuesday, Duncan tweeted that she was “so moved by the outpouring of support behind [her] story about Kobe”.
“And I love that #girldad is trending…” she continued, adding: “So for all those proud fathers who still have their girls to love on can you flood my timeline with pics of you and your flock. Honestly I need it as much as anyone right now.”
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