Former Buckeye, WNBA coach recalls Bryant’s support of women’s basketball

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Kobe Bryant was known for his play and his passion around the globe and it was no different here in Ohio.

Former Buckeye Katie Smith, who played in the Beijing Olympics with Bryant, said she was in disbelief when she heard the news of Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash Sunday that claimed the lives of eight others, including Bryant’s daughter.

“It was hard,” said Smith. “It was kind of unbelievable.”

Smith is now an assistant coach for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA and took some time out of her day to remember Bryant’s legacy, which she believes was only beginning.

“Somebody who had a phenomenal career and embarking on that second chapter and looked to be in such a happy place in being a father and coaching his daughter’s team,” Smith said.

It’s a second chapter family, friends, and fans won’t be able to see.

Smith played in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with Kobe and said she remembers his smile and his competitive nature, but she also remembers what he did for female athletes.

“Even him being vocal about the WNBA, about women’s college basketball, or about his daughter and supporting it, not sure with words but by actions,” she said. “I mean, he was coaching his daughter’s team and that means a lot. It shouldn’t have to give it validity, but it does.”

Smith is two-time WNBA champion and WNBA finals MVP and is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. She even helped the U.S. women’s basketball team win three Olympic gold medals, but even with those accolades, she was a fan of Bryant, both as a player and as a man.

She said she will remember the lives lost and remember to pass on his legacy.

“I tell you, just grab life by the horns and go after it, and love those around you every single day,” said Smith.

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