Vanessa Bryant Thanks WNBA For Making Daughter Gianna, Alyssa Altobelli & Payton Chester Honorary Draft Picks
By Rachel McRady
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images
Vanessa Bryant is thanking the WNBA for honoring her late daughter, Gianna Bryant, and two other young female victims from the tragic January helicopter crash that took their lives and the life of Kobe Bryant.
During the WNBA draft, which took place on Friday, Gianna, who died at the age of 13, and two other victims, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, were selected as honorary draft picks.
"It would have been a dream come true for her," Vanessa said of the honor. "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."
"Work hard. Never settle. Use that Mamba Mentality."
Gigi even received her very own No. 2 WNBA jersey, which Vanessa also posted a picture of. "Gianna Maria-Onor’e Bryant #GigiBryant#Mambacita#Wings ❤️You did it!" she wrote. "??Mommy’s proud and happy for you mamacita! @wnba ??#2."
The WNBA also honored Kobe during the draft, who was touted as "potentially the greatest ally that this sport could ever hope for." Vanessa shared the tribute video on her Instagram page, writing "Mambacita and Mamba Forever."
Earlier in the day, Vanessa shared a promo for the draft, with the caption, "Honorary Draft Picks:❤️Gianna Bryant❤️ ❤️ Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester❤️ class of 2024."
WNBA stars and Bryant family friend Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu -- who was selected by the New York Liberty with the No. 1 pick at Friday's draft -- both spoke at the Celebration of Life for the late L.A. Lakers star and his daughter in February as did Coach Geno Auriemma of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, where Gigi expressed interest in attending.
For more on the Bryant family in the wake of their tragic loss, watch the clip below: