New York Liberty point guard Sabrina Ionescu, who spoke at Kobe and Gianna Bryant's Celebration of Life in February, reflected on that experience with Turner Sports' Ernie Johnson on Tuesday:
Ionescu, a former University of Oregon star, developed a friendship with the Los Angeles Lakers legend, who died in a helicopter crash with his daughter and seven others on January 26.
After she was drafted No. 1 overall to the Libs in the 2020 WNBA draft, Ionescu posted the following tribute to Bryant on Instagram:
As Emily Carson of Sporting News noted, Bryant and Ionescu met in January 2019 after the Ducks beat the USC Trojans 95-53.
Later that summer, Ionescu helped coach Bryant's AAU team, the Mamba Ballers. And during the 2019-20 season, Ionescu and Bryant kept in touch as the Oregon point guard nearly averaged a triple-double for the year en route to winning the Naismith Player of the Year and AP Player of the Year awards for the Pac-12-winning Ducks.
Ionescu was among a host of luminaries to speak at the Celebration of Life, including NBA legends Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant's wife, Vanessa.