The WNBA paid tribute to Kobe and Vanessa Bryant's daughter Gianna during the WNBA 2020 Draft. While it was expected that the women's basketball league would honour the victims of the tragic helicopter crash on January 26, not many had the idea of WNBA's plans. As a part of their special tribute, WNBA commissioner kicked off the Draft by announcing three honorary picks - Alyssa Altobelli, Payton Chester, and Gianna Bryant, who were all killed in the helicopter crash along with basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
The WNBA honors Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester and makes them honorary draft picks at WNBA draft pic.twitter.com/wqsntNNzDe— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 17, 2020
Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa Bryant was particularly touched by WNBA's special tribute as she instantly took to Instagram to express her thoughts on the announcement. Vanessa Bryant posted a string of pictures and videos on Instagram where she lauded the WNBA while also remembering her daughter on this special occasion. One such post featured a picture of Gianna Bryant's No. 2 jersey with the caption, 'Gianna Maria-Onor’e Bryant, You did it! Mommy’s proud and happy for you Mamacita!'
In a subsequent post, Vanessa Bryant shared a short video where she applauded WNBA's tribute to Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester. Donning Kobe Bryant's orange hoodie, Bryant said, "It would have been a dream come true for her. 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, thank you for honouring my little girl."
“This is his sweatshirt. Thank you. I want to congratulate all of this year’s draft picks. So congratulations, work hard. Never settle. Use that Mamba Mentality," she added.
The virtually held WNBA 2020 Draft saw Sabrina Ionescu being drafted as the No. 1 pick by New York Liberty. Sabrina Ionescu's University of Oregon teammate Satou Sabally was drafted at No. 2 by Dallas Wings.
In addition to the honorary draft picks, the WNBA also announced the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award. The first recipient will be awarded by Vanessa Bryant during the 2021 NBA All-Star weekend.