By Sophia Yakumithis

Last Sunday, the world mourned the loss of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and eight others who died suddenly in a helicopter crash, among them Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. 

After news of the tragedy broke, Sports Center anchor Elle Duncan shared a story of the time she met Bryant backstage at an ESPN event. The then-eight months pregnant journalist received warm regards from the father of four girls (then three), as he raved about how lucky she is to be expecting a girl, and that he would “have five more” if he could. He then referred to himself as a “girl dad,” which, of course, began trending on Twitter immediately after Duncan went viral.

In the aftermath of Sunday’s unexpected and horrific event, I think it’s a huge testament to Kobe’s character that his consistent love for his daughters is at the center of social media dialogue, even today. Of course, my exposure is filtered to my interests (which are not very sports-centric), but the Girl Dad movement has appeared to strike a chord in everyone, even people who don’t relate to it on any level.

I am fortunate to say that I can relate. I’ve always thought of my father as epitomizing the Girl Dad, but I never had a label for it. 

My parents really wanted all boys, but ended up with the opposite. My older sister and I have a big age difference, and I think if there was a boy somewhere in the mix, it would throw off our family dynamic and he’d imprint some Hellenistic will on this Greek child, maybe even sending them to the barracks at age seven to prepare for defending Sparta’s empire. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, so my sister and I grew up to be confident, resilient and capable… without Spartan military training. 

I’m not going to share warm and fuzzy stories about my dad, even though I have tons. Including the time he woke me up when he came home from work at midnight to bestow a persimmon upon me, remembering that I expressed an interest in them the day prior. But I will say that Kobe’s death made me take a step back to deeply appreciate the relationship I am so grateful to share with my father, something so many people can not say the same of. 

I guess this is just to say that if you’re lucky enough to have a father figure, even if they’re not a Girl Dad, you should give them a call and thank them. And tell them that you love them. And that they can’t call Lenny Kravitz a “has been” if they wear jeans to Planet Fitness.