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Gianna Maria Onore Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter who perished alongside him in the tragic helicopter that claimed nine lives, was honored by her dream school last night. The UConn Huskies honored Gianna, a.k.a Gigi, with a customized No. 2 jersey and flowers that laid over a chair on the team’s bench. They posted the photo on social media with the caption, “Mambacita is forever a Husky.”

The game began with a tribute to Kobe Bryant. “Team USA held the ball for an eight-second backcourt violation in honor of Bryant’s first jersey number in the NBA. Then the Huskies held the ball and ran out the 24-second shot clock as a tribute to his second number,” ESPN reported. A photo of Kobe and Gianna was displayed on the jumbotron.

In a post-game press conference, coach of the Huskies, Geno Auriemma recalled Gianna’s excitement when she first met the Huskies under the Huskies program. It was her dream to play for the NCAA division team.

“First time they were at a game — you know the old saying — she was like a little kid, looking up at our players,” he emotionally reminisced. “You could just see the look in her eyes. She was just so excited.

“Now, imagine the absurdity of that — that your father’s Kobe Bryant and the most excited you’ve been in a long time is being around college women’s basketball players. But that’s what it meant to her. That was what she aspired to be.

“You could just see the look in her eyes. She was so excited,” Auriemma said. “That’s what she aspired to be.”

Bryant was a devoted and loving father to all his daughters and bragged about how proud he was to have little girls. ESPN Sports anchor Elle Duncan described her encounter she had with Bryant years ago at ESPN, where he raved about being the father of all girls.

“Girls are the best,” he said. “Just be grateful you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing.” He mentioned that his wife Vanessa Bryant wanted to have another child to try for a boy, but she knew she might have another girl. “I would have five more girls if I could. I am a girl dad,” he proudly stated.

He raved about how his oldest daughter being an accomplished volley ball player and praised GiGi for being a monster in basketball.

“That middle one, he said, ‘She’s a beast,” he said. “She’s better than I was at her age. She’s got it.”

Kobe Bryant filed for the trademark “Mambacita” a month before their sudden death.

1. United States v Connecticut

United States v Connecticut Source:Getty

STORRS, CONNECTICUT – JANUARY 27: A jersey to honor Gianna Bryant sits on the UConn bench before the USA Women’s National Team Winter Tour 2020 game between the United States and the UConn Huskies at The XL Center on January 27, 2020 in Hartford, Connecticut. Bryant and her father, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, were killed in a helicopter crash on January 26. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) vertical,photography,usa,sport,bench,sitting,basketball – sport,the olympic games,national team,sports uniform,match – sport,connecticut,honor,women’s basketball,olympic team,connecticut huskies,university of connecticut,ncaa,basketball uniform,summer olympic games,gianna bryant,sports jersey,women’s college basketball,hartford – connecticut

2. United States v Connecticut

United States v Connecticut Source:Getty

STORRS, CONNECTICUT – JANUARY 27: A jersey to honor Gianna Bryant sits on the UConn bench before the USA Women’s National Team Winter Tour 2020 game between the United States and the UConn Huskies at The XL Center on January 27, 2020 in Hartford, Connecticut. Bryant and her father, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, were killed in a helicopter crash on January 26. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) photography,horizontal,usa,topix,sport,bench,sitting,basketball – sport,the olympic games,national team,sports uniform,match – sport,connecticut,honor,women’s basketball,olympic team,connecticut huskies,university of connecticut,ncaa,basketball uniform,summer olympic games,gianna bryant,sports jersey,women’s college basketball,hartford – connecticut

3. United States v Connecticut

United States v Connecticut Source:Getty

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – JANUARY 27: A moment of silence is held to honor Kobe and Gianna Bryant before USA Women’s National Team Winter Tour 2020 game between the United States and the UConn Huskies at The XL Center on January 27, 2020 in Hartford, Connecticut. Kobe and Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash on January 26. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) photography,horizontal,usa,sport,basketball – sport,the olympic games,national team,match – sport,kobe bryant,connecticut,honor,women’s basketball,olympic team,connecticut huskies,university of connecticut,ncaa,summer olympic games,gianna bryant,moment of silence,women’s college basketball,hartford – connecticut

4. Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves

Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves Source:Getty

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – JANUARY 27: A view of a tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant prior to the start of the game between the Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on January 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) photography,arts culture and entertainment,horizontal,usa,sport,females,daughter,basketball – sport,nba,tribute event,human interest,match – sport,kobe bryant,minnesota,minneapolis,sacramento kings,minnesota timberwolves,target center,obituary,gianna bryant,nba pro basketball

5. United States v Connecticut

United States v Connecticut Source:Getty

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT – JANUARY 27: A jersey to honor Gianna Bryant sits on the UConn bench before the USA Women’s National Team Winter Tour 2020 game between the United States and the UConn Huskies at The XL Center on January 27, 2020 in Hartford, Connecticut. Bryant and her father, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, were killed in a helicopter crash on January 26. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) photography,horizontal,usa,sport,bench,sitting,basketball – sport,the olympic games,national team,sports uniform,match – sport,connecticut,honor,women’s basketball,olympic team,connecticut huskies,university of connecticut,ncaa,basketball uniform,summer olympic games,gianna bryant,sports jersey,women’s college basketball,hartford – connecticut

6. Uconn vs Team USA exhibition

Uconn vs Team USA exhibition Source:Getty

A spot on the UConn bench will honor Gianna Bryant for Tuesday’s exhibition game versus Team USA at XL Center Monday night, Jan. 27, 2020 in Hartford, Conn. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) photography,horizontal,usa,sport,bench,match – sport,united states national team,women’s basketball,university of connecticut,exhibition match,xl center,gianna bryant,tuesday,women’s college basketball,hartford – connecticut

7. Uconn vs Team USA exhibition

Uconn vs Team USA exhibition Source:Getty

A spot on the UConn bench honors Gianna Bryant for Tuesday’s exhibition game versus Team USA at XL Center Monday night, Jan. 27, 2020 in Hartford, Conn. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) photography,horizontal,usa,sport,bench,match – sport,united states national team,honor,women’s basketball,university of connecticut,exhibition match,xl center,gianna bryant,tuesday,women’s college basketball,hartford – connecticut

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