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Tampa coach and #girldad with ties to WNBA reflects on Kobe Bryant’s impact on girls' sports

Local girls' basketball coach and brother of WNBA star Candace Parker talks Kobe's impact on girls' sports
Credit: Marcus Parker

TAMPA, Fla. — Since the death of Kobe Bryant, celebrities, public figures and fans have shared heartwarming anecdotes about the NBA legend. 

Among them was ESPN anchor Elle Duncan, whose on-air tribute inspired the hashtag "GirlDad," after she told viewers about her touching encounter with the five-time NBA champion. 

He told her he loved being a "girl dad."

Marcus Parker, local coach of the Tampa ACES and brother of WNBA star Candace Parker, loves being a girl dad, too. He spoke with 10News reporter Emerald Morrow about Kobe’s legacy and impact on female sports.

NOTE: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity

Reporter Emerald Morrow: When you heard of Kobe’s passing, what was your reaction?
Marcus Parker: It's shocking because you feel like you know them. You feel a connection to them, and it also does kind of take away that feeling of invincibility that maybe everybody puts up around themselves.

Reporter: Kobe invested heavily in girls’ sports. As someone who does the same, what do you feel his impact has been in this area that’s sometimes overlooked?
Parker: Kobe was at the pinnacle of basketball, really, and post-career, could have done anything. And to choose to throw his money, his time, his status into youth girls' basketball, that makes an impact. I think post-career, he kind of became a role model for parents, for adults and fathers with daughters. To see someone that could do anything within basketball really pour himself into and dedicate himself to girls’ basketball, I think does have an impact, and it's real positive for women.

Reporter: Like Kobe, you’re also a father of all girls, aka a #girldad. You also coach one of your daughters in basketball. Tell me more about the joy you find in that. 
Parker: My daughter's a year younger [than Kobe's] and really has that same passion for basketball, and to hear him speak about people coming up to him and saying, 'oh, man, you need to try for a boy to carry on the legacy.’ I love his answer and his response to that.

I think that's a false choice that a father needs a son to do sports or to watch certain kinds of shows. My 12-year-old daughter, we do all of those things and at the same time cook and help each other pick out what outfits we're gonna wear or whatever. So, I think that that relationship or feeling that you can only have that relationship with a son is not accurate.

Reporter: Your sister, Candace, knew Kobe pretty well. He really supported her and the WNBA. Tell us more about that relationship.
Parker: Getting that legitimacy, getting that attention, which someone of his level can bring, it matters. It matters to the league. And so, he went to the court and did workout sessions with her. He comes to the games and speaks about it as a fan of the game. There's a lot of people on the internet who have ideas about women in sports, and if someone who is on that level within men's sports respects it, then who are they to question it?

Reporter: What did you admire most about Kobe?
Parker: He did have tremendous work ethic and…I teach my girls, my players, that anything you want, you really have to go after it. I think people who are great at something at one point, it almost went into obsession. And he exemplifies that. So, as a player, I certainly respect that. As a father in post-career, I do think it's that a lot of people say a girl can do anything a boy can do, but how many people really put their time and their resources into helping make that happen?

And for someone who can outsource anything, he could have gotten the best coaches in California to be involved and create this thing, but he was hands on and in it, and didn't even start with hey I'm gonna get all of the best girls from all across California. He started out with a losing team and really just, I think, made such an impact and really dove in in a way that you have to respect.

10News Producer Mandy Cordero contributed to this report. 

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at emorrow@wtsp.com.

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