Kobe Bryant rose to fame as a basketball star, but his dedication to family may be his most powerful legacy.
Famously a proud “girl dad,” Bryant had four daughters ― Natalia, Gianna aka Gigi, Bianka and Capri ― with his wife, Vanessa. Before he and Gigi died in a helicopter crash in January, the NBA legend opened up about his experience as a father in many interviews and public appearances.
In honor of his birthday, we’ve rounded up 12 quotes about parenthood from Bryant.
On Setting An Example
“You can’t talk your children into working hard. That’s the one thing that drives me crazy ― parents come up to me on the street or when I’m at the sports academy and say, ‘OK, how can I get my kid to work hard? What do I need to tell them? Can you talk to my kid?’ I say, listen, it’s not something that you can talk through. It’s a behavioral thing. You have to get up every day and do the work. Consistently do the work.”
On Having Four Daughters
“Be thankful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing. I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”
On Work-Life Balance
“I want to make sure the days that I’m away from them are days that I absolutely have to be. I’d rather be with them than doing anything else.”
On Gigi’s Basketball Skills
“She’s a monster. She’s a beast. She’s better than I was at her age. She’s got it.”
On Holiday Traditions
“Every year, we go and watch ‘The Nutcracker.’ … We also watch ‘Home Alone,’ ‘Charlie Brown,’ all the Christmas classics. We try to make a gingerbread house, but my wife and the kids do a much, much better job than I do! I’ll put it that way.”
On Gigi’s Approach To Basketball
“What I love about Gigi is her curiosity about the game. She’s very curious. Even in a heated situation in a game where it’s going back and forth, she can detach herself and come to me and ask a very specific question, which is not common.”
On The Bittersweet Side Of Parenting
“When Bianka was born and Capri was born, it was an odd mix of pure happiness and fulfillment but at the same time a little sadness, because I knew that my two older girls were going to age. Of course, you know they’re going to age, but when Bianka and Coco are 6 and 4, Natalia is going to be 20, Gianna is going to be 17, and I’m like, ahh. It just puts things in perspective. Time has no mercy. I wish I had a TiVo button, just pause it for a second.”
On Bianka’s Baby Talk
“She understands a bunch of words already. The challenge now is getting her to speak in complete, full, crystal-clear sentences. She already has plenty of words in her vocab.”
On Coaching His Daughter’s Basketball Team
“We try to teach the kids what excellence looks like. Right? And it’s not that — some of them may want to play in the WNBA, some of them may not — but we try to give them a foundation for the amount of work and preparation that it takes to be excellent in whatever it is that you choose to do. So we’re here playing basketball. We’re going to focus on the details. We’re going to learn the basics, we’re going to learn the fundamentals. We’re going to do those things over and over. And hopefully it’s something that they can apply to other areas in their life.”
On Gigi’s Confidence
“The best thing that happens is we’ll go out and fans will come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me. And they’ll be like, ‘Hey, you gotta have a boy. You and V gotta have a boy to carry on the tradition, the legacy.’ And she is like, ‘Oy, I got this. You don’t need a boy for that. I got this.’ I’m like, ‘That’s right, you got this.’”
On His Children’s Book
“I have four girls at home and I wanted to make sure, it’s important that they see characters that look like them. That are also athletes. They get tired of hearing my voice, ‘Be persistent. Work hard. Believe in yourself.’ They’re kind of like, ‘okay, Dad, alright, I got it, we get it.’ So when I can put them into stories like this, hopefully it will get that same message without having their parents in their ear all the time.”
On Teaching Hard Work
“My kids’ volleyball, basketball, school work ― they work every day, and that’s how you instill it in them, where it becomes a behavioral thing and it doesn’t matter what they decide to do [as adults]. Like if Gianna decides to not play basketball when she grows up, it’s fine, but she understands the discipline that it takes to work at something every single day. So whether she wants to be a writer, a director, a doctor, a lawyer, she’ll have those characteristics. It’s a behavior. Also, it’s observing you — and not just me, my wife too. It’s her commitment to the children and making sure that they’re on point, schedule, school work. Everything is sharp, everything is there, every single day. Seeing me get up, train and work hard.”
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