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The 2020 WNBA draft is being livestreamed tonight on ESPN and the ESPN app, and at the beginning of the ceremony Gianna Bryant and her other two teammates who tragically passed away in the helicopter crash earlier this year were selected as honorary draft picks. Gianna, along with teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, had their names read out by WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert in alphabetical order during the virtual show.
"These athletes represented the future of the WNBA," Engelbert shared today. "Players who were following their passions, acquiring knowledge of the game, exhibiting skills that were way beyond their years and they represented the next generation of stars in our league."
Vanessa Bryant also took to Instagram to express her appreciation to the WNBA for the gesture.
"Thank you so much for honoring my Gigi and selecting her to be an honorary draft pick this year," she said in the special message. "It would have been a dream come true for her, she worked tirelessly every single day. She wanted to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, just like her daddy, so thank you. Thank you for honoring my little girl."
Vanessa went on to talk about how much Kobe and Gigi loved the WNBA, and congratulated the rest of the soon-to-be draft picks. The WNBA also announced the Kobe and Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, which honors individuals or groups who have made significant contributions to the progression of girls' and women's basketball.
Among the players drafted in Round 1 were Sabrina Ionescu, who was drafted to the New York Liberty, Satou Sabally, who was drafted to Dallas Wings, and Lauren Cox, who now joins the Indiana Fever. You can check out the rest of the draft board here.