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LeBron James' reason for wearing Gianna Bryant's number at All-Star game? His own daughter

Jack Baer
Writer

The 2020 NBA All-Star game will be heavy on tributes to Kobe Bryant, starting with the numbers on every player’s back during the game.

Team Giannis will wear Bryant’s No. 24. Team LeBron will don No. 2, the number of Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna, a strong young player who hoped to play for UConn one day.

When asked by reporters on Monday about the number choice, James said the league approached him last week about the plan and asked him which one he wanted to wear, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. To explain why he picked No. 2, James said one word:

“Zhuri.”

As you might guess, “Zhuri” is Zhuri Nova James, LeBron’s 5-year-old daughter and youngest child.

LeBron James is also a #girldad. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Bryant’s role as a father to four daughters has featured as much in his legacy as anything in the aftermath of the tragic helicopter crash that killed nine people, inspiring the #girldad hashtag. Bryant clearly loved fatherhood, something that James believed made his final years his happiest:

“It felt like these last three years were the happiest I’ve ever seen him,” James said. “I think we all can say that. It was the happiest I’ve ever seen him, being able to just be with his daughters, be with his family. ...

“To see him these last three years just being ... y’all see ‘GirlDad,’ the hashtag. I’m a girl dad. My brother right here [Anthony Davis] is a girl dad.”

It seems only right that James would pick up that torch of showing love for Gianna at the NBA’s biggest event since it was rocked by her death.

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