Rayshard Brooks’ niece was among many of his family members to speak publicly about their loss during a press conference on June 15. Brooks’ niece said he was a “girl dad” and a “loving husband,” among other things. This heartbreaking and specific tribute was a direct reference to the now infamous quote by the late Kobe Bryant, who said he was a “girl dad,” and that he loved being a father to his daughters most of all.
Brooks, 27, was sleeping in his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru on Friday, June 12, when someone called the police to complain, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI). When police arrived, there was a struggle which ended with Brooks being fatally shot. The Atlanta police officer who shot and killed Brooks has since been fired. Many are calling for charges to be brought against him, as well. His name is Garrett Rolfe.
Brooks’ love for being a “girl dad,” as described by his niece, is a direct callback to the tragic death of Bryant earlier this year. The line comes from a story told by ESPN’s Elle Duncan, who said she had a conversation with Bryant about what it meant to be a parent of daughters. Duncan said,
“I asked him for advice on raising girls, seeing as though he quite famously had three at the time, and he said just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing. His third daughter, Bianka, was about a year-and-a-half old at the time, so I asked if he wanted more children, and he said that his wife, Vanessa, really wanted to try again for a boy but was sort of jokingly concerned that it would be another girl. And I was like, ‘Four girls, are you joking? What would you think? How would you feel?’ And without hesitation he said, ‘I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a ‘girl dad.'”
Here’s what you need to know:
Brooks Was a Father of Four, & Had Celebrated His Daughter’s Eighth Birthday Hours Before He Was Fatally Shot
Brooks leaves behind four children, according to USA Today. The day he was shot, he celebrated his daughter’s eighth birthday by taking her out to get her nails done and get some food. He was shot and killed that night.
Justin Miller, the attorney for the Brooks family, noted that Brooks’ daughter was set to have a big birthday celebration on Saturday. Per USA Today, Miller said, “She had her birthday dress on because she was waiting for her dad to come pick her up to take her to go skating. While we were over there, they had a birthday party for her eighth birthday today with cupcakes … while we were sitting there talking with her mom about why her dad’s not coming home.”
Brooks’ niece is the same age as he was when he was shot: 27 years old. On, Monday, she paid tribute to the “girl dad.” She added, “He had the brightest smile and the biggest heart. On June 12, one of our biggest fears became our reality. No one walking this green earth expects to be shot and killed like trash in the street for falling asleep in the drive-thru.”
”Rayshard has a family who loves him,” she said, “Who would have gladly come and got him so that he could be here with us today.”
Brooks’ Widow, Tomika Miller, Called Brooks ‘an Awesome Father’
Brooks’ widow, Tomika Miller, spoke to TODAY on Monday about the inconceivable loss of Brooks, as well as the impossible challenge of explaining what had happened to their oldest daughter, whose birthday was celebrated on Saturday.
Miller said, “I don’t know how I’m gonna to explain it to [my daughter] because I still can’t understand it right now, and I’m really thinking that she doesn’t understand that her father is never coming back home.”
Miller continued, “It’s no sense to be made. I’m really hurt. I’m still feeling numb from everything. This morning when I woke up, my daughter asked me, ‘Are we still having swimming lessons?’ And I didn’t know how to answer that because that’s something that her dad told her they were gonna do today.”