Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young opened up about Kobe Bryant on the same day the basketball legend died in a helicopter crash with eight others. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant was also one of the victims.
On Sunday the Hawks played the Washington Wizards in Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, and Young wrote Bryant’s name on his shoes and wore No. 8 to honor him.
The Hawks and Wizards also acknowledged Bryant’s untimely passing together and took an eight-second violation, as well as a 24-second violation. The Hawks won the game 152-133 as Young scored 45 points.
There was also a point where Young wiped away tears on the court, and he also cried after the pregame warm-ups.
It turns out that the 21-year-old had a special connection to Bryant and to Gianna, who went by the nickname Gigi.
That’s because Young was Gigi’s favorite player, and they met on two occasions, once in November when the Hawks faced the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center and again earlier this month in Brooklyn when the Hawks played the Nets.
“This S*** can’t be real,” tweeted Young on Sunday next to a photo of one of those meetings. “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. Rest Easy Gigi.”
Young also spoke about Bryant and Gigi after the game at the news conference and said he spoke with the late basketball star the day before he died.
“One of the last conversations we had, man, he was just telling me how he’s seen my game progress,” said Young as he became emotional and paused for a moment. “He just been happy for me.”
“He was saying how proud he was of me and how he wants me to continue seeing me be a role model for kids growing up and just for Gigi and all of the kids looking up to me and continue to inspire these kids and continue to play my heart out,” added the young hoops star. “That was one of the last things he said to me.”
“I know this can’t be easy for u Trae! Hang in there!” wrote one of his Twitter followers
“Keep ya head up champ,” someone else tweeted.