Kobe Bryant will long be remembered as one of the greatest basketball players of our time. But only in death have we come to fully know how seriously he took his role as a father and how much being the father to four daughters meant to him. Bryant perished Sunday along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven other passengers in his helicopter when it crashed into a mountain.

Bryant doted on all of his girls, but he had a special relationship with Gianna, who was 13, and a free-spirited basketball lover. Images and video of a tender, smiling Bryant and an adoring Gianna poured out on social media after news of their deaths.

Whether coaching Gianna’s basketball team or hanging out on the sidelines together, arm in arm, analyzing NBA games, Bryant was Gianna’s champion and an advocate for girls’ and women’s sports.

But as Bill Reiter of CBS Sports wrote Bryant was more than that:

“To say Kobe Bryant is just a single thing is to miss the 50 others that shaped him. He was all of them — the father, the husband, the star, all the complications and warts and greatness wrapped together. But fatherhood framed something about him that, while probably always there, cast his greatness and impact into a different, deeper light.”

Philadelphia Police Sgt. Troy Brown put it this way in a Tweet on Sunday: “Kobe Bryant was a legendary basketball player, but more importantly he seemed like the model father to his girls and that’s what matters most.”