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Saturday, June 22, 2024

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#GirlDad: A Reflection

It has been nearly a month since the untimely death of NBA Legend Kobe Bryant. Though much will be made of his legacy as one of the NBA’s transcendent superstars, it is the haunting knowledge of what was still to come for the father and daughter duo that triggers a unique sense of sorrow.

Over the passing weeks, I found comfort reading posts of fathers honoring their relationships with their daughters, using hashtag #GirlDad, in memory of the ultimate “girl dad.”

The trend started with ESPN anchor Elle Duncan sharing a memory of Bryant.

“When I reflect on this tragedy,” Duncan said, “I suppose that the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved the most: Being a dad. Being a girl dad.”

Bryant was a father to four daughters — Natalia, Bianka, Capri and Gianna. Gianna perished with him, along with seven others, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, Jan. 26.

As Duncan’s story went viral, thousands of fathers responded to the story on social media using the hashtag #GirlDad to share photographs and express fatherly pride.

The hashtag #GirlDad are among the touching tributes fans shared about Bryant, who encouraged dads to lift up their daughters athletic abilities.

Kobe was an advocate of that, having said confidently that Gigi was talented enough to carry on his legacy on the court.

In many ways, Kobe and Gianna deaths triggered an emotion in me that caused me to reminisce about the bond my father and I shared.

I learned to play basketball and had a passion for the game because of my dad. Frankly, many of my interests, including writing, are because of his willingness to introduce me to the things he loved.

I know even in my dad’s absence he is a proud #GirlDad.

The hashtag resonated with me because I know how important dads are to this world. The hardest adjustment I’ve ever had to make in life was adapting to life without my father.

Much like Bryant, my dad had confidence in his daughter’s ability to create her own legacy — but to also further his.

In an interview with late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel, Bryant talked about a fan approaching him and Gianna. The fan said Bryant needed to have a son in order to continue Bryant’s legacy. Gianna responded by saying that Bryant did not need a boy for that. “I got this,” Gianna said. Bryant responded by saying, “Yes you do. You got this.”

The development of the hashtag #GirlDad demonstrates examples of how fathers should value their daughters, and in turn, women. It encourages fathers to place no limits on what their daughters are capable of.

Being a #GirlDad means raising a daughter who can follow in your footsteps and encouraging her just as much as you would a son.

As we approach my dad’s birthda, Feb. 28, I want to thank him for always being the best #GirlDad.

Happy Heavenly Birthday! I love you forever.

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