Natalia Bryant Reveals Why She Quit Volleyball After Dad Kobe and Sister Gianna's Deaths

In a cover story, Natalia Bryant tells Teen Vogue how she planned to play volleyball in college but changed her mind after the 2020 deaths of her dad Kobe Bryant and sister Gianna Bryant.

By Elyse Dupre Sep 08, 2021 2:53 PMTags
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It shouldn't come as a surprise that Natalia Bryant inherited her late father Kobe Bryant's love of sports. While he will forever be remembered as a basketball legend, his 18-year-old daughter is all about volleyball. 

As Natalia explained to Teen Vogue for its September cover story, her passion for the game developed at age 9, when her mother, Vanessa Bryant, took her to watch beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor compete at the 2012 London Olympics. The pro won the gold medal that year along with teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings.

 "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," Natalia, who is nearly 6 feet tall, shared. "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.'"

Kobe Bryant's Family Album

Vanessa was right. Natalia said she took up club volleyball with the intention of becoming a Division I athlete in college and often attended games with her parents. The magazine recounted one particular match between the University of Southern California and the University of Oregon that Natalia and Kobe attended in November 2019.

 "That was an especially cool moment that I got to experience with him, and sit courtside, and watch two of the top teams," she recalled. "They were going at it. I was in awe watching them."

Two months later, in January 2020, Kobe, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others died in a helicopter crash.

"I love the sport," Natalia told the publication. "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."

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Natalia is now a freshman at USC, where she plans to study film. She also recently signed a contract with IMG Models and enjoys spending time with her mom and little sisters Bianka and Capri.

 "You do the best that you can," Natalia replied after being asked how her family is doing these days. "[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."

One way Natalia honors Kobe and Gianna's legacies is by talking about them. "I love talking about my dad," she told Teen Vogue. "It's bittersweet, but I enjoy talking about him more than it's sad for me." 

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