Daughter of former NBA star: Kobe 'was always there for my dad when no one else was’

Antoine Walker was drafted the same year as Kobe Bryant

Miami Heat's Antoine Walker dunks the ball while being defended by Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Monday, Jan. 15, 2007, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis) (Jeff Lewis, Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The daughter of former NBA star Antoine Walker said the loss of retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was extra personal because of his close ties with her father.

Antoine Walker, who played for the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, was trying to free up some time to do an interview on Monday, but due to his obligations as an NBA ambassador and game analyst, he and News4Jax were unable to connect. But Antoine Walker’s daughter in Chicago, Alana, spoke with her cousin, News4Jax reporter Erik Avanier, about what Bryant did for her and her father.

Northwestern University volleyball star Alana Walker’s father was drafted in 1996 -- the same year as Bryant, who spent his entire 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. When she was a young girl, her father introduced her to Bryant. Growing up, Alana Walker said, she idolized Bryant the same way she idolized her father. She said Bryant inspired her to be a fierce athletic competitor.

Alana Walker recalled the moment Sunday when she learned Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California.

“I initially thought of my dad and called him right away. When I heard his sadness, I could tell he was upset. I started crying," Alana Walker said. "This was the first legend I’ve lost in my lifetime. It was like losing someone who was impactful and such a good person. That was the main thing my family said about Kobe when I was growing up. He’s such a good guy. He’s such a good person. He was always there for my dad when no one else was.”

Alana Walker said she is also thinking about Bryant’s family, including his wife, Vanessa, and the families of the other victims who were on the helicopter when it crashed.

“My heart goes out to Vanessa and the Bryant family. I can’t put into words how they are feeling -- also the other families on board," Alana Walker said. "It’s just so unfortunate.”

About the Authors:

Award-winning broadcast and multimedia journalist with 20 years experience.

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.