What it means to be a #girldad

There have been many, many wonderful and heartfelt stories shared about Kobe and Gianna Bryant throughout the week, since the news broke about their untimely death on Sunday. One that had a particularly profound impact on me was from ESPN’s Elle Duncan.

From the SportsCenter desk, Duncan sat as poised as she could be under the circumstances and revealed that she had once met Bryant at an ESPN event and interacted with him. She was pregnant at the time and Bryant immediately lit up when she told him she was having a girl.

“Girls are the best,” Bryant told Duncan, and gave her an enthusiastic high-five.

Duncan said she and Bryant talked about raising girls, how she asked him for advice, and why girls are the best. Bryant replied happily, “I would have five girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.”

One of Bryant’s favorite things about being a “girl dad” was watching, cultivating and supporting his daughters’ athletic endeavors. His special bond with 13-year-old Gigi was not only based on a father and daughter relationship, it was also built on basketball. They saw the game similarly. And Bryant believed she could be one of the best to ever play the game — even better than him.

Duncan’s video clip has since gone viral and the #girldad hashtag is still trending on Twitter. As a result, many women — young and old — are sharing pictures and stories about their own girl dads. Proud dads have also shared photos of their daughters as well.

It’s an impactful statement, because being a girl dad isn’t just about having a daughter. That’s easy. Anyone can do that. What makes a girl dad special is the way a father loves and supports his daughters, not just at home but out in the world as well. Posting a picture of your daughters on Facebook and putting a “father of two daughters” in your Twitter bio is the bare minimum, and doesn’t mean anything if you harass women online, dog women’s sports, make disparaging comments about the WNBA and other women’s pro leagues, and of course — use the phrase, “Go back to the kitchen.”

You can’t be a girl dad and tell your daughter she can be anything she wants in life, except a head coach of a men’s professional sports team.

It doesn’t work that way.

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