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  • Gianna Bryant wanted to play basketball for the storied University of Connecticut women’s team. On Monday night, she became a member of the Huskies forever. In a moving tribute, UConn honored “Gigi,' the 13-year-old daughter of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who with her father were among nine people killed Sunday in a helicopter accident in California. Before UConn’s Monday exhibition game against the US Women’s National Team, the Huskies draped a No. 2 jersey -- the number Gianna Bryant wore -- over one of their bench seats, the Hartford Courant reported. A bouquet wrapped in blue-and-white ribbons was placed in front of her chair, and a section of courtside seats remained empty. Gianna Bryant wore No. 2 while playing for the Mamba Academy. Referencing her nickname in a tweet, UConn said, “Mambacita is forever a Husky.” Kobe Bryant’s self-proclaimed nickname was “Black Mamba.” Before the game began, fans at the XL Center observed a moment of silence for all of the victims, CBS News reported. Players for the women’s national team paid tribute to the Bryant family on the court, borrowing gestures that have been used in NBA games since the death of the 41-year-old former Lakers star. Team USA guard Sue Bird, a former UConn player, refused to bring the basketball onto the court, resulting in an eight-second violation -- a nod toward the number Kobe Bryant wore when he broke in with the Lakers as a teenager in 1996, CNN reported. When the ball was awarded to UConn, the Huskies’ Crystal Dangerfield took the inbound pass and held the ball, allowing the 24-second shot clock to run out. That was a tribute to the number Kobe Bryant wore in high school and during the latter part of his pro career, CNN reported. “The first time they were at a game, you know the old saying, she was like a little kid, looking up at our players,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma told reporters after the game. “You could just see the look in her eyes. She was just so excited. Now imagine the absurdity of that. Your father is Kobe Bryant, and the most excited you’ve been in a long time is being around college women’s basketball players. But that’s what it meant to her. That is what she aspired to be.” Players like Team USA forward Breanna Stewart honored all nine victims of the crash by writing their names on her sneakers, the Courant reported. The Bryants were recognized before Monday night’s game, the newspaper reported. A picture of the Bryants wearing UConn shirts was shown on the scoreboard over the court. “Kobe was an inspiration to many of the people on the floor tonight and was an advocate for women’s basketball,' the scoreboard announcement read. “He did as much to grow the game, globally, as anyone in recent memory. He and Gianna were tremendous supporters of UConn, friends to both teams, and their untimely deaths leave us heartbroken.”
  • The CEO of the car liner company WeatherTech received horrible news about his beloved dog Scout. The golden retriever had only a month to live after a veterinarian found the 7-year-old dog had cancer -- specifically a tumor on his heart, the company said. The diagnosis came after the dog collapsed, WMTV reported. Scout is not only David MacNeil’s pet, but he’s also the company’s unofficial mascot. MacNeil took a chance and took Scout to the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison. He had only a 1% chance of survival, but with aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, Scout is still live today, WMTV reported. To thank the school, MacNeil is paying for a $6 million Super Bowl ad to show his appreciation and hopes that those who see and hear about the spot will donate to the veterinary school’s research. But there may be more hope from the work that the veterinary scientists do. Their cancer research could be translated to humans as doctors use the research done on animal cancer treatments to help advance research and treatments in people, WMTV reported. The spot will air Sunday during the Super Bowl and will feature not only Scout, but also the University of Wisconsin staff and faculty who helped save his life, university officials said. Cancer, according to the school, “is the number one cause of illness and death in the aging dog population.”
  • Emotions ran high for a Nevada mother who got to ring a cancer-free bell this month for her 4-month-old daughter. Leann Borden, of Sparks, Nevada, was barely able to hold back tears as she rang the bell at the Oakland Children’s Hospital, with Lillian Grace Borden grasping the cord while being held by her father, Patrick Borden. “Everyone in the hospital is in shock,” Leann Borden told KGO. “They say it’s magic. I say it’s faith.” Lillian was born Sept. 5, 2019. When a nurse noticed the infant was not moving her arms and legs properly, an MRI was done and a tumor was found near her brain stem and spinal cord, the television station reported. According to a GoFundMe set up to help Lillian’s family cover her medical expenses, the MRI was sent to specialists in Oakland, California. The family took Lillian from their home in Nevada to California, and doctors discovered a tumor near Lillian’s brain stem and spinal cord, KGO reported. Doctors were unable to operate on the tumor because of its location, but they decided to use a recently approved form of chemotherapy that had worked on these types of tumors, the television station reported. After three weeks of chemo, doctors did another MRI and found the tumor was gone, KGO reported. Doctors allowed Lillian to go home in November, and after a few more treatments, the infant was declared cancer-free in January, the television station reported. “I want to thank Dr. (Caroline) Hastings for saving my baby. You guys are all incredible. I’ve never met such amazing people in my whole life,” Leann Borden said on a Facebook video that captured the bell-ringing ceremony.
  • McDonald’s officials decided a general manager at the company’s franchise in west Texas deserved a break. Noemi Tinico is lovin’ it after she was awarded with a new Toyota CHR on Monday, KDFA reported. Tinico, the general manager at a McDonald’s in Amarillo, was unaware of the surprise, the television station reported. She was rewarded for consistently exceeding sales goals and customer service. “We’re a people company and we talk about being a people company, but that really has to come to live by the actions of our owner-operators,” Joe Erlinger, president of McDonald’s USA, told KDFA. “So, what the Data organization is doing with this act of kindness is really representative of our brand and I’m so proud to be affiliated with them.” According to her LinkedIn profile, Tinoco has worked at McDonald’s since August 2001 and has been a manager for 15 years.
  • If you’ve ever thought Facebook is listening or watching you when you’re not on the social media site, you are right. But now developers at the social media giant have rolled out a tool that may stop most of it, or at least tell you how Facebook is spying on users’ daily lives. It’s called off-Facebook activity. Information is gathered by Facebook’s Pixel and software development kit, INC reported. And the information isn’t just gathered from Facebook, apparently. The Washington Post says it’s also Facebook-owned apps like Instagram and Messenger tracking you, too. To see it, click the small triangle at the top right of Facebook and go to settings. Then click “Your Facebook Information” on the left column, then select Off-Facebook Activity to manage the information the company gleans from your life. Here you can either manage it or clear the entire history from your account. But the company also has a caveat. You may clear your current history, but new activity will be shared back to Facebook in the future. You may also be logged out of apps you have granted access to your Facebook account and you will not see a decrease of ads on your page. You can click on each page and turn off the future activity share option. The off-Facebook activity option came as the result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a promise made by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Post reported. And while the Facebook tool is an option, it won’t keep other companies like Google from tracking and using your data, the Post warned.
  • Hall of Fame defensive end Chris Doleman, who spent most of his 15-year-career with the Minnesota Vikings, died Tuesday night, the Vikings confirmed Wednesday morning. He was 58. Doleman, a fearsome pass rusher who played 10 of his 15 seasons in Minnesota, was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He died after battling brain cancer, the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis reported. Doleman had surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2018, the newspaper reported. Doleman played for the Vikings from 1985 to 1993 and in 1999. He also played for the Atlanta Falcons (1994-1995) and the San Francisco 49ers (1996-1998). He was an Indianapolis native and played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh. The Vikings drafted him No. 1 in the 1985 NFL draft (he was the fourth pick overall that year). “Chris was a great example for players past and present, as he embodied all the best characteristics of a Viking - resilience, toughness and a competitive spirit,' the Vikings said in a statement. 'Chris always carried himself with dignity and class. Vikings fans worldwide will greatly miss him.” Doleman had 150.5 career sacks, eight interceptions and recovered 24 fumbles. He made eight Pro Bowl appearances, and was a two-time, first-team All-Pro, KSTP reported. Doleman had 21 sacks to lead the NFL in 1989. “The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Chris Doleman after a prolonged and courageous battle against cancer,” David Baker, Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO, said in a statement. “I had the honor of getting to know him not only as a great football player but an outstanding human being.” “The legacy of Chris Doleman will live forever in Canton, Ohio, for generations to learn from how he lived a life of courage and character.” Former Vikings punter Greg Coleman added his condolences on Twitter, along with other former teammates: