Kobe Bryant was the favorite player of millions of NBA fans, but a member of his own family had taken on a current player as her new favorite in recent years. Gianna Bryant, Kobe's daughter, considered Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young to be her favorite player.
The elder Bryant attended only three games this season. Two of them involved Young. After one of them, Kobe took Gianna to meet her favorite player. On Sunday, both Kobe and Gianna Bryantin California. The news shook the entire basketball world, but Young was especially devastated following his meeting with the Bryants.
...This S*** can’t be real... this the first moment I was able to meet Gianna Maria, she’s been to only 3 games this year... 2 of them were mine... She told me I was her favorite player to watch🙏🏽 I can’t believe this😢😭— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) January 26, 2020
Rest Easy Gigi❤️ pic.twitter.com/IfDrE9Gjlv
A number of tributes to Bryant took place around the league as games went on following the news, but Young's was particularly touching. While he usually wears No. 11, Young came out for Sunday's game against the Washington Wizards wearing No. 8 -- one of Bryant's jersey numbers.
After his Hawks won the opening tip, Young sat on the ball for eight seconds, again in Bryant's honor, earning a violation.
At the end of the second quarter, Young even managed to nail a halfcourt shot. It's almost as if Bryant guided the ball into the hoop.
Young ultimately finished the game with 45 points on 24 attempts -- Kobe's other jersey number. He also finished with 14 assists. In doing so, he became the first player to have a 45-point double-double with fewer than 25 field-goal attempts since Bryant did so himself against the Washington Wizards in December of 2016.
"Can't make this up," Young wrote on Twitter after the game. "He was with me tonight."
"One of the last conversations we had, he was just telling me how much he's seen my game progress and he's just been happy for me," Young said after the game. "He said how proud he was of me and how he wants me to continue to be a role model for kids growing up and for Gigi and all the kids looking up to me, to inspire these kids and continue to play my heart out."
Bryant may be gone, but his legacy -- and the impact that he had on the game -- will live on through the millions of players, like Young, that he inspired during his playing days.