Since the death of Kobe Bryant, celebrities, public figures and fans have shared heartwarming anecdotes about the NBA legend. Among them was ESPN anchor Elle Duncan, whose on-air tribute inspired the hashtag #girldad after she told viewers about her touching encounter with the five-time NBA champion.
Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash Sunday. During a “SportsCenter” broadcast on Tuesday, Duncan reflected about meeting the longtime Los Angeles Lakers star at an ESPN event in New York in 2018.
She was eight months pregnant at the time and Bryant asked her about the baby. Duncan told him she was having a girl — a notion that delighted the then-father of three daughters. Bryant had his youngest, Capri Kobe, last summer.
“High-five me, girls are the best,” said Bryant.
Duncan asked him if he would have more children in the future. “I would have five more girls if I could,” Bryant told her. “I’m a girl dad.”
Duncan then recalled how Bryant spoke so highly of Gianna, who had aspirations of being a basketball player just like her dad. “He said that middle one was a monster,” Duncan said. “‘ She’s a beast. She’s better than I was at her age. She’s got it.'”
Nearly breaking into tears, Duncan said she took solace in Bryant enjoying his time with his daughters. “When I reflect on this tragedy and that half hour I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose the only small source of comfort for me is knowing he died doing what he loved the most: being a dad. Being a girl dad.”
Duncan’s story resonated with many on Twitter. Proud fathers with daughters began sharing photos with their kids and the hashtag in honor of Bryant.
Duncan later tweeted that she was touched by the reaction of her story and encouraged dads to keep sharing theirs. “I’m so moved by the outpouring of support behind my story about Kobe,” she wrote. “And I love that #girldad is trending.. 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.”
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