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Gianna Bryant Christened 'Forever A Husky' By UConn Women's Basketball Team

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Gianna Bryant may have been only 13 years old, but she already had her father's signature Mamba scowl and his fade-away jumper down pat.

The girl affectionately nicknamed "Mambacita" by her parents, but who was better known as Gigi, was honored Monday night by the University of Connecticut women's basketball team with a jersey with her number it, christening her "forever a Husky."

Gigi, who died Sunday in the helicopter crash that also killed her father Kobe Bryant and seven others, was a rising basketball star in her own right and had her heart set on joining the UConn women's basketball team one day, with the ultimate goal of playing for the WNBA.

NBA Finals Game 5:  Los Angeles Lakers v Orlando Magic
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers holds his daughter, Gianna, after the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won 99-86. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Gigi grew up in the spotlight, a toddler who laughed as she got kisses from her superstar father as he did interviews at the NBA finals and amid the raucous celebrations immediately after the Lakers won the 2010 NBA championships. As she became a teenager, she became more interested in taking on the basketball superstar mantle herself.

PHOTO GALLERY: Gigi Bryant Through The Years

Bryant, a 5-time NBA champion, coached Gigi's AAU basketball team out of his Mamba Sports Academy training facility in Thousand Oaks, where the helicopter was headed when it crashed Sunday. They were accompanied by 7 others, including two teenage teammates of Gigi, their parents and another coach.

Her parent's Instagram pages are filled with videos of Gigi playing basketball – even in heels -- and meeting her personal heroes like Lynx player and UConn alumna Napheesa Collier.

Bryant was famous for his ferocious competitiveness, but his daughter may have been even more so, judging by anecdotes the basketball superstar told in interviews.

"The best thing that happens is when we go out, and fans will come up to me, and she'll be standing next to me, and they will be like, 'You gotta have a boy, you and V [wife Vanessa] gotta have a boy, man, to have somebody carry on the tradition, the legacy.' And [Gigi] is like, 'I got this!'" Bryant told late night host Jimmy Kimmel in 2018.

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