WNBA announces Kobe and Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award

In this July 26, 2018 file photo former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Gianna also died in the crash. (Chris Carlson/AP)

The WNBA has announced a new award in memory of the late Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

The Kobe and Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award will be given to an individual or group who has made “significant contributions to the visibility, perception and advancement of women’s and girls’ basketball at all levels,” according to a press release issued by the league.

“Kobe was an incredible champion of women’s basketball and Gianna shared his passion and dedication to our game,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in the release. “The Kobe and Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award will honour their legacy and reflect Kobe’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of players, promoting the game and giving back to the community.”

The WNBA and Bryant family will announce the first recipient of the award during the 2021 NBA All-Star weekend in Indianapolis. Vanessa, Kobe’s wife, will present the award each year moving forward at All-Star weekend and will also have a large role in determining who receives the honour.

Earlier on Friday, the WNBA honoured Gianna during the 2020 draft as well.

Before the first official selection was made, Engelbert paid tribute to the lives of Gianna, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester — all of whom tragically died in the January helicopter crash that claimed the life of Kobe and five others — by selecting them as honourary draftees.

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