Gianna Bryant, teammates named honorary WNBA Draft picks

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester were named as honorary draft picks just prior to the start of Friday’s 2020 WNBA Draft.

The league honored the three girls who were killed in a helicopter crash with former NBA legend Kobe Bryant and five others on Jan. 26. Gianna, her dad and the other girls were on their way to a basketball game to be played at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in California. The crash occurred 30 miles away from downtown Los Angeles claimed all nine lives.

Gianna’s mother, Vanessa Bryant, thanked the league for honoring her 13-year-old daughter in a video message.

“Thank you so much for honoring my Gigi and selecting her to be an honorary draft pick this year. It would have been a dream come true for her,” Vanessa Bryant said. “She worked tirelessly every single day. She wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, just like her daddy. So thank you, thank you for honoring my little girl. Kobe and Gigi loved the WNBA.”

Engelbert made the announcement by stating all three girls’ names in alphabetical order and messages were delivered from all of the families.

“These athletes represented the future of the WNBA, players who were following their passions, acquiring knowledge of the game, exhibiting skills that were way beyond their years and they represented the next generation of stars in our league,” Engelbert said.

The WNBA also paid tribute to former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who passed away on January 1 and helped form the league that started in 1997.

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