The Texas A&M women’s basketball team remembered former NBA standout Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the other seven victims of Sunday’s Calabasas, California helicopter crash with a moment of silence before Thursday’s SEC conference game against Georgia.
The program also left flowers on three Reed Arena court-side seats with Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and the seven other victim’s names attached.
“I wish we could have done an entire parade or a whole day worth of a celebration,” senior guard Jasmine Williams said. “The man was inspiring. Many people are named after him. Numbers are taken after him. He will continue to affect generations after ours. He's a legend.”
The helicopter carrying the nine passengers was en route to one of Gianna Bryant’s basketball games. On board was John and Keri Altobelli and their teenage daughter Alyssa, as well as Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter Payton and Christina Mauser, an assistant coach for the team. The pilot was Are Zobayan. There were no survivors.
Thursday also marked the A&M women’s program’s Daddy-Daughter night, which invited fathers to bring their daughters to the game. One of the lasting images of Bryant has been of the former Los Angeles Laker and Gianna talking through basketball while watching an NBA game from curtsied seats. Because of his daughter’s love of basketball, he had become an outspoken supporter of the women’s game at all levels.
“What Kobe could have meant to women’s basketball - which he was already doing that with his four daughters, the WNBA and being such a fan of women’s basketball,” head coach Gary Blair said after the game. We’re going to miss that more than anything you’ve ever seen, what he could have done for our sport.”
As many A&M players had their fathers in the stands Thursday night, the moment of remembrance seemed especially poignant, Williams said.
“It's a really sad story but it just shows you how precious life is and that [it can end] in any given moment, so we need to make sure our relationships are in order and that you know, we keep everything together,” she said.