Just like old times, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal are celebrating. The former Lakers teammates became fathers again Monday when their wives gave birth to girls six minutes apart.
Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant was born at 2:03 a.m. PDT in Orange County, Calif. Kobe and Vanessa Bryant are already parents to 3-year-old Natalia.
“The arrival of our new daughter Gianna early this morning is such an incredible blessing for me and my family,” Bryant said in a statement. “We are all full of beautiful emotions after such an incredible day.”
Shaquille and Shaunie O’Neal became parents for the sixth time when Mearah Sanaa O’Neal was born at 4:57 a.m. EDT in a South Florida hospital.
It’s the third girl for the O’Neals, with Mearah joining sisters Taahirah and Amirah and brothers Myles, Shareef and Shaqir, who turned 3 last month.
Both mothers and their new babies were said to be doing well.
Fatherhood helped O’Neal and Bryant end the feud that led to the breakup of their pairing with the Lakers. When the Miami Heat played at Los Angeles in January, O’Neal congratulated Bryant on the birth of his daughter and the impending birth of the second one.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Bryant and O’Neal are both in the playoffs. Bryant’s winning shot in overtime Sunday gave the Lakers a 99-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns and a 3-1 lead in their series. The Heat and Chicago Bulls are tied at two games apiece in their series.
Bryant didn’t attend practice Monday or travel with his teammates to Phoenix for Game 5, to be played Tuesday night.
“I told him not to worry about that, to come when he can and get the rest he needs,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “Hopefully he’ll get there tonight, or if not, shootaround tomorrow.
“There’s a huge emotional feeling about having a child that’s just beyond belief. We’re happy for him. The timing’s right, he’ll have some rest, but I’m sure it’s not easy to sleep after all those things happen.”
PBT: Lance Stephenson led Indiana with 25 points in a win that eliminated his hometown team. Stephenson and the Pacers will face the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
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