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Why Natalia Bryant Quit Sports After Kobe & Gianna Tragically Passed Away

Natalia Bryant Reveals She Quit Sports When Kobe & Gianna Passed

Opening up…

It’s been a devastatingly tough year-and-a-half for Kobe Bryant’s family after he and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna tragically passed away (along with seven others) in a helicopter accident in January 2020. Now, his oldest daughter Natalia Bryant is getting candid about all the unexpected ways the unthinkable loss has impacted her life.

The 18-year-old spoke with Teen Vogue on Wednesday about why she decided to quit playing volleyball when she had been poised to become a star athlete for the University of Southern California, at which she is a freshman this year.

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Recalling the moment she fell in love with the sport, Vanessa Bryant’s firstborn said she was taken to the 2012 London Olympics to watch beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor compete. It was a masterful plan made by her momma to help her find a way to feel more “confident in my height,” Natalia explained:

“I was watching and [my mom] was like, ‘Nani, you’re going to love this sport. You’re going to love volleyball. I’m calling it right now.’ I think [my mom] knew I wasn’t confident in my height. She’s like, ‘You’re going to play volleyball. You’re going to get confident because of this. There are all these other tall girls too, so you’re not the only one.’”

She quickly joined club volleyball and was headed to play on a Division I team this Fall. Impressive! You can see a clip of her playing from last year (below).

Unfortunately, her future drastically changed the moment her father and sister were killed. Not only has she stepped up to help raise and be a support system to her younger siblings, Capri, 2, and Bianka, 4, but her love for the sport wasn’t enough to pull her through the dark time. The teen revealed:

“I love the sport. I quit volleyball after the accident because I was so…a lot was going on at that time. I knew I didn’t… love volleyball as much as they love basketball. I’m okay with that.”

Wow. What a mature perspective to have. We know that must have been a difficult decision to make — especially in the midst of unimaginable grief — but we’re glad she feels “okay” with the life change.

Another big change that came her way? Bryant signed with IMG models in February, so she’s still bound to be kept pretty busy while also embarking on her first year of college. At USC, she plans to study filmmaking, another interest that holds a special connection to her father:

“My dad and I would always watch as many movies as we can and we’d go on movie marathons. And then we’d always analyze as many movies as we can and we’d talk about it for months. Anywhere we’d go we’d just keep talking about different films and how it, like, reminds us of where we are.”

How amazing! What a great way to continue to honor her dad and learn about her passions more deeply.

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Despite what some might assume, Natalia also admitted that she loves talking about the late Los Angeles Lakers legend, even if he may be gone. She added:

“I love talking about my dad. It’s bittersweet, but I enjoy talking about him more than it’s sad for me.”

While she’s beginning to open up to the public more about her personal life, she’s also making sure to keep Kobe and Gianna’s memories alive for her little sisters. On what family life has been like this year, she shared:

“You do the best that you can. [For] my little sisters [we’re] trying to keep that memory for them. And also just trying to remember to live out every day the way they would.”

Love that! Their family’s close-knit support system is really the best way to stay strong during this tragedy. See some of her stunning cover photos (below):

Reactions, Perezcious readers? Let us know in the comments.

[Image via Natalia Bryant/Vanessa Bryant/Kobe Bryant/Instagram]

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Sep 09, 2021 13:11pm PDT