In a tribute to the dreams of Gianna Bryant and two of her teammates who were killed, along with their parents and NBA legend Kobe Bryant in the fatal helicopter crash, the WNBA paid tribute to the three teenage girls by making them honorary draft picks in this year's class. The 2020 WNBA Draft opened with commissioner Cathy Engelbert, from her home due to the league hosting a virtual draft, announcing Bryant, along with her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester as honorary selections.
At the end of the tribute, Gianna's mother, Vanessa Bryant, thanked the WNBA for making Gigi and her teammates honorary selections, and shared some words in her daughter's memory:
In addition, the WNBA announced that the league is creating the "Kobe and Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award." The award will honor a player that makes contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of girls and women's basketball.
Bryant initially announced the WNBA's plan to honor her daughter as an honorary draftee when she posted a short promo clip of Friday's draft with a caption that included Gianna and her teammates.
Gianna, Alyssa, Payton and their parents were on their way to a basketball tournament when the helicopter they were traveling on crashed into a mountain in Calabasas, California on Jan. 26. Everyone on board was killed.
Those in the basketball community have shown an outpouring of support and tributes toward not just Kobe, but also his daughter. Gigi was featured heavily in the Staples Center tribute to Kobe, and the UConn Huskies -- where she wanted to play college ball -- created a tribute jersey in her honor. Two seats were reserved with her jersey alongside Kobe's in the first night the Lakers played since their deaths.