Kobe Bryant’s daughter Natalia pays tribute to ‘MVP of girl dads’ during handprint ceremony

The basketball star and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020

Meredith Clark
New York
Thursday 16 March 2023 15:52 GMT
Kobe Bryant’s hand and footprints placed outside the TCL Chinese Theatre

Natalia Bryant paid a heartfelt tribute to her late father Kobe Bryant during a ceremony honouring the basketball legend.

On 15 March, the 20-year-old student was joined by her mother, Vanessa Bryant, and her sisters – Bianka, six, and Capri, three – outside the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California, where they helped unveil a display honouring the Lakers player.

Kobe Bryant’s handprints and footprints, which were previously printed in cement more than 10 years ago, will now be permanently placed in the theatre’s public forecourt. As they unveiled the tribute – which included the original February 2011 date he made the prints as well as his “24” jersey number – Bryant’s daughters Bianka and Capri placed their own hands and feet on top of their father’s prints.

The family were also joined by Lakers president Jeanie Buss and former NBA head coach Byron Scott, while eldest daughter Natalia gave a speech at the ceremony. “I’m honoured to be here today to recognise the man we all knew and love, my dad Kobe Bryant,” the University of Southern California sophomore began her speech.

“While most people knew him as a basketball player or a storyteller, I got to know and love him as my dad,” Natalia said. “And let me tell you, he is the MVP of girl dads, to say the least.”

“Being a dad of four girls is definitely not easy, but despite the NBA and Lakers schedules, he always made sure to support me and my sisters, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri – at our recitals, games, tournaments and any monumental moment you could think of,” she continued. “Being his daughter is one of the greatest joys of my life and I hope I continue to embody and cherish the many lessons he has taught me.

Natalia went on to explain how watching movies with her father – such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Goonies, and anything from the Marvel cinematic universe – inspired her to pursue a college degree in film. “Each of those memories I will never forget,” she said. “He is the reason I’m pursuing film in college. And he is the reason film has inspired me to create memories like ours, for other people to even bring more fathers and daughters together like us.”

Vanessa Bryant and her daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri attend ceremony permanently placing Kobe Bryant’s hand and footprints in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre (Getty Images)

She added: “It’s truly astounding to be standing here in front of the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, forever displaying my dad’s hands and footprints. As you visit here for years to come, I encourage you to place your hands in his, and take a moment to stand in his shoes.”

On 26 January 2020, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were tragically killed in a helicopter crash just outside Los Angeles, along with seven other victims. Earlier this month, Vanessa Bryant was awarded a $28.5m settlement in her lawsuit with Los Angeles County over photographs of the 2020 helicopter crash, in which police and fire officials employed by the county allegedly showed off photos of the crash site that included the bodies of the victims.

Natalia Bryant has often shared fond memories of her late father on social media, posting throwback photos of the basketball star to mark special occasions like Father’s Day or his birthday. In a 2021 interview with Teen Vogue, Natalia spoke candidly about why she loves to keep memories of her father and sister alive, especially for her little sisters.

“I love talking about my dad. It’s bittersweet, but I enjoy talking about him more than it’s sad for me,” Bryant said, adding elsewhere in the interview that the basketball legend was “just like the best girl dad ever”.

Bryant added that her dedication to honouring their memories stems from a desire to support her family: “You do the best that you can. [For] my little sisters, [we’re] trying to keep that memory for them. And also just trying to remember to live out every day the way they would.”

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