Before a helicopter accident tragically took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others on board in 2020, the Los Angeles Lakers legend had become known as a major advocate for women’s sports.
The death of the elder Bryant was a big loss for women’s sports — particularly women’s basketball — and the death of the younger Bryant stole a rising star from the game.
As such, Jason Kidd, a Hall of Fame guard and current head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, is doing his best to pick up the pieces in women’s sports.
The 50-year-old launched Jason Kidd Select, a women’s basketball program, in 2021, doing so with a goal of carrying on the elder Bryant’s vision.
“We all saw Kobe Bryant, and the light that he was putting on women’s sports,” Kidd said. “When he and his daughter passed, a question became who was going to help pick up the torch.”
Kidd spent 19 seasons as a player in the NBA and retired in 2013.
“Whatever I could do to help women in the world of sports, I want to be involved,” Kidd said. “I want to help women achieve their goals, I want to help give them opportunities to be successful whether it’s playing basketball or using their scholarships to become doctors, lawyers or politicians.”
Kidd spoke more about the inspiration behind his program.
“His daughter was playing and he gave everything to her and the game by launching a program, and I thought that was special,” Kidd said. “All I’m trying to do is continue the charge.”
It’s wonderful to see that the elder and younger Bryant are still impacting women’s basketball today.
“It’s Kidd’s goal to see all of the players from his program earn college scholarships,” wrote Andscape’s Jerry Bembry. “Since 2021, all of the Jason Kidd Select team players have received Division I scholarships. Some of them played at schools that include Cal, Penn, Florida State, Texas Southern, Cornell and Arizona State.”
The elder Bryant, who spent his entire NBA career with the Lakers, was still adding to his legacy after retirement. On the court, he finished his career with 18 All-Star selections, five NBA titles and one MVP award.
The younger Bryant, meanwhile, was a talented player who was taken at just 13 years old. Her father often talked about her as someone who was capable of following in his footsteps in the basketball world.
Kidd’s efforts are certainly admirable, and Lakers fans will undoubtedly root for its success in the years ahead. With any luck, his program will help women’s basketball as a whole evolve into an even bigger brand, giving young athletes more opportunities than ever.
The elder Bryant was never teammates with Kidd in the NBA, but they’re certainly on the same side now.