SYRACUSE, NY (CNN NEWSOURCE) – Two nine-year-old girls love to play basketball.
While they may have hoop dreams of their own, the real reason they hit the court so much is to bond with their dads.
Aaliyah and Gia have played basketball for as long as they can remember.
“I put a ball in her hand at two just to get her used to touching the basketball and feeling it,” Adonia Kinsey said.
“Probably since she was about one year old, she would be in front of the television and watch it,” Christopher Zachary said.
And they’re pretty serious about the sport.
“Her dedication is so amazing. She comes every day ready to work out. She comes from school and asks me can she go to the YMCA,” Kinsey said.
Aaliyah and Gia play for Hiz and Herz Hoops travel team in Central New York.
For Gia, the sport is extra special because the coach is also her dad.
“He’s a great dad,” Gia Kinsey said.
Some say it’s just a game but for these girls, it’s family.
“It’s about the bond, The relationship, the father-daughter father-son relationship,” Zachary said.
And these “girl dads” say Kobe Bryant was their role model.
“Kobe was the blueprint for all of us dads across the country. For us to take the time out and put the effort and time into our daughters,” Kinsey said.
Now, they use his blueprint to create a bond with their own daughters.
“I just like to spend as much time with them as possible. Those bonding moments that you can never get back,” Zachary said.
“After Kobe Bryant’s passing, it really touched home for me. We definitely have that bond like Kobe and Gigi has,” Kinsey said.
They say while basketball is just a sport…
“I’m going to get old. There’s going to be a day that the ball stops bouncing,” Zachary said.
It’s the lessons they’ll take with them even after they stop playing.
“Always have to keep your head up and keep trying,” Aaliyah Zachery said.
And the ability to silence the noise.
“I just say don’t care, it’s your opinion, but I’m actually good,” Gia said.
And if you ever question what it means to play like a girl, just ask Gia.
“I’ll tell them, do you wanna do a 1 v 1, because I’ll beat you,” Gia said.
As she’ll tell you, all is fair in love and sports.