In the days after the helicopter crash that killed basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, celebrities and fans alike have mourned Bryant’s death by sharing stories about him.
One story in particular, shared by ESPN anchor Elle Duncan, struck a chord.
In a tearful on-air segment on Tuesday, Duncan talked about the time she met Bryant two years ago when she was pregnant with her daughter. At the time, Bryant and his wife Vanessa had three daughters, and had another girl in 2019.
“I asked him for advice on raising girls … and he said, ‘Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing,’” Duncan said.
“When I reflect on this tragedy, and that half an hour I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose that the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved the most.
Inspired by the story, dads from around the world took to social media to talk about their relationships with their daughters. The phrase #GirlDad quickly trended on Twitter.
Pro baseball star Alex Rodriguez, the father of two girls, was among the athletes and other celebrities who posted: “I’m so proud and lucky to be a #GirlDad.”
Regular dads also joined in, including Ken Heidelberg, 25, a shift supervisor for a Dallas security company.
“How much I love you, words or action will never be enough. I look at you and see perfection through my lens!” he tweeted along with a video of his one-year-old soon after she was born.
“Knowing that Kobe died with his daughter, I can’t imagine the pain as a parent,” Heidelberg said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Bryant and Gianna, also known as Gigi, were on their way to one of her basketball games at the time of the crash.