With heavy hearts, the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, paused prior to Monday's 7 p.m. women's basketball game between UConn and the U.S. National Team and remembered two lives taken far too soon.
Los Angeles County authorities confirmed Sunday that Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a southern California helicopter crash killing nine people. The flight from Calabasas to nearby Thousand Oaks, where the Bryant-owned Mamba Sports Academy is, served as transportation for a travel basketball game, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday.
As the sports world continued to grieve Monday, the Huskies did the same. During a moment of silence -- 24 seconds, for the number Kobe wore from 2006-16 -- the public address announcer shared the following message.
"Fans, yesterday we learned of the tragic and sudden deaths of nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna," the public address announced said. "A legendary talent and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Kobe was an inspiration to many of the people on the floor tonight and was an advocate for women's basketball, did as much to grow the game globally as anyone in recent memory.
"He and Gianna were tremendous supporters of UConn, friends to both teams and their untimely deaths leave us heartbroken. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to the Bryant family -- Vanessa, Bianka, Natalia and Capri. Please join us in a 24-second moment of silence in remembrance of Kobe and Gianna."
With a gray No. 2 UConn jersey for Gianna draped over the back of a courtside chair and white flowers resting on the seat, fans stood still for the duration of time. Players from both UConn and the U.S. National Team stood around the Huskies logo at midcourt, linked together with arms around each other's waists and heads bowed.
After the 24 seconds passed, players broke from the circle and clapped as the crowd cheered. As the public address announcer noted, Kobe and Gianna were strong supporters of UConn, with Kobe discussing how he sees the game from a different viewpoint through his growing daughter's eyes during an interview with SNY's Justine Ward on March 2, 2019.
"You know, it's funny -- I don't (miss playing), which is weird," Kobe told SNY during the second quarter of UConn's eventual 83-61 win over Houston on Senior Day at the XL Center. "Like, if you would've asked me that years ago, I would've said, 'That's impossible, to have that feeling.' But I don't. I watch the game through my daughter's eyes and see her play every single day and I'm busy building a studio. So I'm happy."
"It's pretty cool," Kobe added, when asked about Gianna's passion for basketball. "It's pretty cool. She started off playing soccer, which I love, but she came near me about a year and a half ago and said, 'Can you teach me the game?' I said, 'Sure.' We started working a little bit and, next thing you know, it became a true passion of hers. So it's wonderful."
Kobe talking about how passionate his daughter Gianna was for the game of basketball. 💔pic.twitter.com/ej7arbYr4a- SNY (@SNYtv) January 26, 2020