Don Drysdale’s Widow, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Receives Kobe And Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award

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Ann Meyers Drysdale was named the recipient of the 2024 Kobe and Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, which she was presented during the NBA All-Star Game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

“Having been around the WNBA since its inception, I am truly humbled to accept the 2024 Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award and to be viewed as an advocate for girls and women in sports,” Meyers Drysdale said in a statement.

“I first met Kobe when his dad was coaching the Los Angeles Sparks, and I was on the Sparks’ broadcast team. I knew then how much passion Kobe had for the game of basketball and how that devotion ran in the family. It was a full-circle moment for me when Kobe led his daughters to the sport, and we all saw the support he gave to girls and women in the game.

“As someone who has also lost a husband while raising young children, I hope to honor Vanessa’s strength and bring further awareness to the ways that she continues to recognize her husband and daughter’s legacy.”

Congrats to our very own Ann Meyers Drysdale for receiving the 2024 Kobe and Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award

From her work on the court to her commitment to the game off the court, Ann continues to be a driving force to grow the game of basketball!

— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) February 19, 2024

The Kobe and Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award was established by the WNBA in April 2020, with the intention of recognizing a tireless advocate for women’s basketball and someone who uses their time, talent and platform to raise awareness for the game.

Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, plays a significant role in determining the annual honoree.

Chris Paul was the inaugural recipient in 2022, and Bryant’s former Lakers teammate, Pau Gasol, was named the winner of the award last year.

“Annie has been a force inspiring young girls on and off the court – something she, Gianna and Kobe shared and cared about deeply. I’m happy Annie is receiving this award in Kobe and Gianna’s memory – she is so deserving,” said Vanessa Bryant, chair of the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

Ann Meyers Drysdale’s career

Meyers Drysdale’s accomplishments include becoming the first high school basketball player to make a United States National Team, first female athlete to receive a full athletic scholarship to UCLA — where she competed in basketball, volleyball and track & field — and the first college basketball player to be named to the All-America Team in four consecutive seasons.

She also made history as the first woman to sign an NBA contract when she joined the Indiana Pacers in 1979.

Meyers Drysdale’s post-playing career includes holding the role of general manager for the Phoenix Mercury, during which time they won two WNBA championships (2007 and 2009), and she was vice president for the franchise’s most recent title in 2014.

Meyers Drysdale also made history in the broadcasting space, becoming the first woman to call an NBA game as a color commentator for the Pacers.

In 2012, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association renamed its women’s Division I college basketball National Player of the Year award in honor of Meyers Drysdale. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s annual award recognizing the top collegiate shooting guard is also named after her.

Drysdale additionally is a member of the Naismith Memorial and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She was married to Don Drysdale in 1986 and regularly accompanied him to Dodger Stadium.

Don passed away because of a heart attack in 1993.

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