Today we celebrate Kobe Bryant, nearly seven months after his sudden death. Both Los Angeles and Orange counties have officiated August 24 as Kobe Bryant Day, which honors his jersey numbers (08 and 24) during his Lakers tenure. The helicopter crash that took his life on January 26, shook not just Southern California, but the world.
From January to August, tributes to Bryant have poured out. Today, Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson announced a plan to rename part of Figueroa Street to Kobe Bryant Boulevard. The street runs by Staples Center, AKA “The House that Kobe Built.”
Figueroa St. will soon be Kobe Bryant Blvd. between Olympic & MLK.— Herb J. Wesson, Jr. (@HerbJWesson) August 24, 2020
Kobe’s legacy is bigger than basketball. #KobeBryantBlvd will be a reminder to everyone, young and old who drive down it, there is no obstacle too big and that with the #Mambamentality , anything is possible. pic.twitter.com/gvekIFOU5u
The Power of #GirlDad
Aside from his athletic greatness, an enduring part of Bryant’s legacy has become his title as a “Girl Dad.” When ESPN reporter Elle Duncan honored Bryant’s life, she reflected on the one time she met him. Their conversation led to a declaration that has since gone viral: “Girls are amazing… I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”
#GirlDad was ablaze on social media. A month later, Duncan reflected on the movement’s meaning: “There’s a perception that having boys makes men feel more complete, but there was Kobe in all his joy, reminding the world of the blessing that comes with being a dad to girls.”
Even now, if you take a scroll through Instagram or Twitter, you’ll find a search of #GirlDad filled with posts from fathers announcing the births of their daughters or simply captioning a photo of his kid. Particularly on a day like today, you will also find posts honoring Bryant and his relationship with Gianna.
Uplifting Kobe’s legacy
Since Duncan’s commemoration, Girl Dad merch has even surfaced on the likes of Etsy and other customizable apparel sites. More importantly, as Duncan said, the label shines a positive light on having daughters. As explained by Vox, “it’s important to acknowledge the role fathers can play in advocating for their daughters and building a fairer world around them.”
Bryant was an example of this in his involvement with the WNBA. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Bryant wanted to help grow the women’s game for his daughters. The breakdown by UCLA coach Cori Close really puts it best: “Women don’t need men to validate their talent… That is already there. But growing the game requires allies.”
To have an athletic legend like Bryant not only accept, but celebrate the fact that he has daughters is an accomplishment on his own. Like Close said, it’s not that girls and young women require validation by men to feel justified in their identity, but having someone who epitomizes stereotypical male greatness applaud girls for just being girls is significant. The world so often signals young women need to diminish any ounce of femininity, from style to athleticism, in order to be respected.
Bryant’s declaration completely wipes that notion. It pushes society acknowledging the humanity of girls and women, chipping away at the world’s patriarchal lens. Bryant’s legacy is forever, meaning his Girl Dad badge will also endure.