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WNBA picks Gianna Bryant, teammates as honorary draftees

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 09:13 AM April 18, 2020
kobe gianna bryant

FILE – In this March 2, 2019, file photo Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Connecticut and Houston in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

The lives of teenagers Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, and Payton Chester were tragically cut short in a helicopter crash three months ago.

Their dreams, however, live on forever.

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On Saturday, the three promising basketball stars became honorary selections in the 2020 WNBA Draft with league Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announcing their names to kick off the online event.

They shared the spotlight with Oregon standout Sabrina Ionescu, who was drafted first overall by the New York Liberty.

“I think it was a very beautiful thing that the WNBA did to be able to draft those three girls,” Ionescu said in a story by The Associated Press. “They deserved it. I know they’re looking down and smiling and really excited.”

The league showed jerseys of Bryant, Altobelli and Chester, who were also teammates, on the screen as their names were being announced.

The WNBA also paid tribute to Gianna’s dad and basketball legend Kobe Bryant and the late former longtime NBA Commissioner David Stern.

“When David Stern launched the WNBA over 23 years ago, he changed the course of women’s basketball in the US forever. His commitment to women’s sports was ahead of its time and we are grateful for his leadership,” Engelbert said.

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“Kobe was not only a legendary basketball star but a devoted youth coach and had a tremendous impact on countless young players. I met Kobe last fall and after he left our office, I remember thinking that his passion for the WNBA and girls basketball was unparalleled from anyone else I had ever met.”

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TAGS: 2020 WNBA Draft, Alyssa Altobelli, Basketball, Cathy Engelbert, David Stern, Gianna Bryant, honorary draft picks, Kobe Bryant, Payton Chester, Sabrina Ionescu, WNBA
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