LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The WNBA honored Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester Friday during the draft, announcing the trio as honorary draftees.
"These athletes represented the future of the WNBA," Cathy Engelbert, WNBA commissioner said in a video posted to social media." Players who were following their passions, acquiring knowledge of the game and exhibiting skills that were way beyond their years. They represented the next generation of stars in our league, maybe what would have become the 'Mambacita Generation.'"
The three girls were officially drafted in alphabetical order.
"First, the WNBA selects Alyssa Altobelli, guard, from Newport Beach, California," Engelbert said. "Second, the WNBA selects Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, guard, from Newport Beach, California. And with the third honorary pick, the WNBA selects Payton Chester, forward, from San Juan Capistrano, California."
Family members for the three also spoke about the draft, including Vanessa Bryant who thanked the WNBA for honoring her daughter.
"It would have been a dream come true for her," she said. "She worked tirelessly every single day. She wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, just like her daddy.
"Kobe and Gigi loved the WNBA," she said.
Engelbert also honored the late Kobe Bryant, who she said was a devoted youth coach who 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," she said.
The retired Laker legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna; coach Christina Mauser; Payton and her mother, Sarah Chester; Alyssa and her parents, John and Keri Altobelli; and pilot Ara Zobayan were killed Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash.
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