‘I’m a girl dad’: Kobe Bryant’s words inspire proud fathers to celebrate daughters in viral movement

ESPN anchor Elle Duncan’s tribute to Kobe Bryant started off like many of the stories that have been shared about the NBA legend this week after he died in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

“I met Kobe one time, backstage at an event for ESPN in New York,” Duncan said during a recent “SportsCenter” broadcast. “I saw him, and I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s Kobe. I gotta get a picture for the ‘gram.’ ”

But Duncan’s chance meeting with Bryant two years ago was much more than just a hasty photo op and a quick exchange of pleasantries. Instead, the pair, one an expecting mother and the other a father of three daughters, talked at length about one of Bryant’s greatest joys in life: Being a “girl dad,” as he put it.

“ ‘I would have five more girls if I could,’ ” Duncan recalled Bryant saying. “’I’m a girl dad.’”

Bryant’s words and Duncan’s emotional retelling of the conversation quickly went viral, racking up millions of views as of early Wednesday. The clip appeared to especially strike a chord with fathers who also have daughters, prompting them to launch a trending social media movement: sharing photos of themselves with their children along with the hashtag “#girldad.”

The hashtag has since been used hundreds of thousands of times across Twitter and Instagram by celebrities, sports figures and others eager to express their appreciation and love for their daughters.

“Of all the Kobe videos, tributes, etc. the past couple days, this one hits different,” one person tweeted. “Having a daughter has changed the way I look at the world. Love being a #girldad every day.”

Bryant’s devotion to his daughters — he and his wife, Vanessa, added a fourth last year — was no secret. In fact, as The Washington Post’s Kent Babb wrote, the girls were one of the few subjects Bryant was always willing and eager to talk about.

As Duncan tells it, this same passion was on display when she met Bryant for the first time.

“He immediately commented on my rather large, eight-month pregnant belly,” Duncan said Monday on “SportsCenter.” “ ‘How are you? How close are you? What are you having?’ ”

Duncan told the longtime Lakers star that she was having a girl.

“He high-fived me, ‘Girls are the best,’ ” she said.

Then, Duncan said she asked Bryant for any advice on raising girls, and he told her, “Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing.”

But with three daughters to worry about, did Bryant want any more children?

“He said that his wife, Vanessa, really wanted to try again for a boy, but was sort of jokingly concerned that it would be another girl,” Duncan said. “I was like, ‘Four girls, are you joking? What would you think? How would you feel?’ ”

Without hesitation, Bryant responded that he would happily continue to grow his family with daughters.

Duncan became emotional when she remembered Bryant talking about his daughters, fighting tears as she recounted him praising Gianna, who had taken up basketball just like her father.

“He said that middle one was a monster,” Duncan said. “’She’s a beast. She’s better than I was at her age. She’s got it.’”

Bryant and Gianna, a talented athlete with dreams to play for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, were en route to a youth tournament in northern Los Angeles when their helicopter crashed Sunday morning. Some of Gianna’s teammates, their parents and others were also on board.

Remembering the nine victims in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

Gigi, as she was affectionately nicknamed, has been described as “a little Kobe” and was often pictured with her father watching basketball games. In one video, which has circulated widely on social media, Bryant appeared to be breaking down the game to Gigi while they sat courtside last month at a Brooklyn Nets game.

Taken from https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/01/29/kobe-girldad-fathers-daughters/