“Wake up, grind and get better." That was the message Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant had for Sabrina Ionescu.
Now, the Oregon women’s basketball star is paying tribute to her mentor and his daughter Gianna, who were tragically killed in a helicopter accident last month.
At the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ionescu eloquently spoke about why she idolized Bryant and how his daughter, Gigi, was the future of women’s sports.
Here’s a look at how social media reacted as Ionescu paid tribute to Kobe and Gigi in an arena filled with legends:
Kobe x Gigi x Sabrina Ionescu pic.twitter.com/GyrBmxh6VT— Chris Martin Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) February 24, 2020
"I ask each of you, every #girldad, every human with a voice, a platform & a heart to not let his sun set.— AJ McCord (@AJ_McCord) February 24, 2020
Shine for us, for our sport where he once did. Invest in us with the same passion & drive & respect & love as he did his own daughter."
Sabrina Ionescu's poignant words
Sabrina Ionescu has still texted Kobe after his death. While it becomes hard to accept there are no responses, it has meant a lot to Sabrina to still pass along messages and catch Kobe up on hoops— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 24, 2020
“If I represented the present of the women’s game, GiGi was the future.”— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) February 24, 2020
Oregon basketball’s Sabrina Ionescu remembers her relationship with Gianna and Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/cgteXrjoAR
incredible that we got to hear from diana taurasi and sabrina ionescu back-to-back— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) February 24, 2020
two generations of elite women's basketball stars
Kobe and Gigi Bryant’s impact on women’s basketball went unfinished, and that's so devastating
Thank you, @sabrina_i20. 💜💛— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) February 24, 2020
Sabrina says she is still texting Kobe even though he's not here. Finished one sentence with "rest easy my guy"!— Steve Tannen (@SportsTalk953) February 24, 2020
Sabrina has a poignant call to action there... if u loved Kobe, if u believe in mamba mentality... love on Women’s basketball. Be better in your support of it... as Kobe invested so genuinely to the women’s game and Gigi’s passion for the game. 🏀❤️— Ros Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) February 24, 2020
It’s so meaningful that brilliant female athletes like Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu are getting this opportunity to discuss their relationship with Kobe. People need to see his support of female athletes went beyond just having a daughter. #ForKobeAndGigi— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) February 24, 2020
“If I am represent the present of the women’s game, Gigi was the future” - @sabrina_i20— Arielle (Ari) Chambers (@ariivory) February 24, 2020
Gigi is supposed to be here 💔
Sabrina Ionescu getting 81 tonight confirmed.— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) February 24, 2020
Ionescu will now catch a plane and head to Palo Alto to rejoin the Oregon women's basketball team. The No. 3 Ducks take on No. 4 Stanford at 6:00 p.m.