The WNBA honored Gianna and her teammates at the draft Friday night. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

In an emotional moment, the WNBA honored the three members of the Mamba Academy basketball team who died in the helicopter crash that also claimed the life of Kobe Bryant.

At the start of the draft, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli, and Payton Chester as honorary WNBA draft picks. All three were members of the Mamba Academy team, and were flying to Kobe Bryant’s basketball academy on the helicopter that crashed.

The announcement was accompanied by messages from Payton’s father Chris, Alyssa’s brother J.J. and sister Lexi, and Gianna’s mother Vanessa.

This moment was even more emotional when you remember what Vanessa Bryant said about Gianna’s potential WNBA career prospects.

This was a fitting and emotional tribute to three young women who were lost in a tragic way, and it really set the virtual WNBA draft off on the right note.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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