WASHINGTON — After Kobe Bryant was tragically killed in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna on Sunday, the loss felt palpable. As with many catastrophes, the sudden death seemed to awaken a newfound sense of appreciation for the every-day relationships with loved ones, family members and friends.
While he was known as a well-awarded legend on the court --- 18-time NBA All-Star, 5-time NBA champion to name a few -- it was Bryant's devotion to his family and philanthropic efforts outside of the arenas that were the backbone of his legacy. It was his wife Vanessa and his four daughters -- Natalia, Capri Pearl, Bianka and Gigi -- that Bryant prized more than any championship ring.
SportsCenter reporter Elle Duncan highlighted that sacred relationship between Kobe and Gianna with a moving broadcast piece, recounting the time Bryant shared his utmost enthusiasm for being a "girl dad" after learning Duncan was expecting.
Holding back tears, Duncan described that the one piece of solace she could find in her brief encounter with the NBA superstar was that in his final moments, he was doing what he loved best beyond basketball: being a father.
"When I reflect on this tragedy and that half hour that I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose the only small source of comfort for me is knowing that he died doing what he loved the most -- being a dad. Being a girl dad," Duncan recounted, voice cracking.
It was a statement that moved many #GirlDads to share their personal favorite reasons behind loving fatherhood.
"A daughter needs a dad, period," viewer Darin Thomas said. "Never get too lost in your day-to-day responsibilities that you don't make time for them... our daughters watch us. And in some cases, like Kobe and Gigi, our daughters even want to continue our legacies. And they can do it! And I love it!"
WATCH: Elle Duncan's GirlDad piece inspired our own Darren Haynes to share his favorite moments of being a father, as well as sharing some of our favorite answers.
So what does it meant to truly be that #GirlDad? We asked some fathers on our Facebook page to share some of their favorite moments. Here are their responses:
"Ambi and I wanted to pay tribute to Kobe and Gigi by duplicating this photo. There has always been something special about the father-daughter relationship and these recent events have shown us not to take that relationship for granted."
"To be able to spend quality time with my daughter, watching her learn and experience life, is priceless. For the past four holiday seasons, I have danced with my daughter in The Nutcracker ballet, and I wouldn't trade those moments for the world. When you're on stage with your daughter and she catches your eye, there's nothing in the world as rewarding. #GirlDad "
"My favorite part of being a #girldad is seeing them grow to be young women with independent personalities and style!"
"I am a proud girl dad. One is 18 and the other 11. The best part of being a girl dad is seeing how much they need you as a security and safeguard in their life. Also sharing wisdom and helping them avoid making the same mistakes I already made. Our daughters need us dads! I was looking at baby pics the other day of them and said "Wow! Just yesterday you were 3 years old running around without a care in the world!" Rest in peace my brother Kobe and precious angel Gianni. Thank you for showing all us fathers out there how devoted you were to your daughters and how we should be the same way. "
Some are even VERY new to the #GirlDad game, like Mike Stanton
"I've been a #GirlDad for a day and it's pretty awesome!"
"My daughter and I have a close relationship and this tragedy touched us deeply. Although we both play basketball, I ran track in college. I discovered early my daughter has a gift for running. Just as Kobe was grooming his daughter in basketball I have been doing the same for Ambrielle in track. It's our bond. When we found out about this tragedy we immediately decided to take this picture and start this challenge. We hoped that it would start a movement that keeps the #girldad love that Kobe and Gigi shared alive in #girldad relationships around the world. "
Kyley Schultz is a digital editor for WUSA9. Follow her on Twitter at @KyleyBSchultz