The tragic losses of Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant on Jan. 26, 2020 were not only heartbreaking for the world, but for the close-knit Bryant family two members were gone in an instant. In a rare interview, Natalia Bryant—the eldest daughter of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant—candidly spoke on the loss of her father and little sister and her current relationship with sports.
The 18-year-old budding model and former volleyball player graces the cover of Teen Vogue‘s September 2021 issue. For her, normalcy was intentionally instilled during her upbringing. “Growing up,” explained Natalia, “my parents made it as normal as possible…It’s not, Oh she’s Natalia Bryant, she’s Kobe Bryant’s daughter. A lot of times they saw me as She’s just Nani.”
As the child of one of the greatest athletes to ever exist, Natalia played varsity volleyball in high school and fell in love with the sport during the 2012 London Olympics as she watched Misty May-Treanor, considered by many as the best beach volleyball player in history, compete.
She recalled attending University of Southern California volleyball games and two months prior to Kobe’s death, they attended one together—USC vs. Oregon. “That was an especially cool moment that I got to experience with him, and sit courtside, and watch two of the top teams. They were going at it. I was in awe watching them,” she expressed.
Natalia revealed that she wanted to play volleyball in college, stating, “I played club volleyball with the intention of becoming a D1 athlete.” However, after the accident, she “just wanted to take a break from it” and will not be pursuing it at USC.
She told Teen Vogue, “I love the sport [but] 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.”
In terms of healing, she shared, “I love talking about my dad. It’s bittersweet, but I enjoy talking about him more than it’s sad for me.”
Check out Natalia Bryant’s full cover story here.