Kobe Bryant's Daughter Gianna Honored By UConn Women's Basketball Team Following Tragic Crash
The University of Connecticut women's basketball team is honoring the memory of Kobe Bryant's teenage daughter, Gianna.
Ahead of the UConn Huskies' game against the USA Women's National Basketball team on Monday, the players paid tribute to the 13-year-old Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, along with her father and eight others, in Calabasas, California.
As an emotional tribute to Gianna, the team laid out a Huskies jersey over a chair that had been set up courtside, and was accompanied by a bouquet of white flowers.
The jersey itself featured the number 2, which was Gianna's number while playing on the basketball team for the Mamba Academy -- where she, Kobe, and the other passengers were en route to when the tragic accident occurred.
"Mambacita is forever a Husky ?" the team wrote on Twitter, along with a photo of their tribute to Gianna -- who was a big, outspoken fan of the UConn Women's basketball team and had expressed a hope to play on the team in the future.
Additionally, ESPN reports that they honored Kobe and Gianna's memory with a 24-second moment of silence before the game began, in honor of the NBA icon's famous, retired number that he wore while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Huskies also shared a heartfelt tribute to the pair Sunday afternoon, hours after the crash that claimed the lives of all nine on board.
"Kobe and Gianna meant a lot to our program. Our thoughts are with the Bryant family," the team wrote. "Mamba Mentality will live on forever, but they are deeply missed. ?"
The LA Lakers legend and his daughter were reportedly on their way to the Mamba Academy near Thousand Oaks, California, when the crash occurred. The L.A. County Sheriff's Office revealed on Sunday that all eight passengers and the helicopter's pilot, Ara Zobayan, had died.
Alyssa Altobelli, a teammate of Gianna's, was also on the helicopter, along with her parents, Keri and John Altobelli, who was a baseball coach at Orange Coast College.
Also among the victims is Christina Mauser, an assistant coach at Harbor Day School in Corona Del Mar, California, who had previously worked with Bryant on a clinic for WNBA players at the Mamba Academy. Another of Gianna's teammates, Payton Chester, and her mother, Sarah Chester, also lost their life in the crash.
For more on the outpouring of grief, condolences and heartfelt tributes to the victims of the crash, see the video below.
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