Vanessa Bryant Returns to Lakers Arena to Honor Kobe's Beloved Teammate Pau Gasol
Vanessa Bryant, the wife of late basketball legend Kobe Bryant, recently made her first return to the Lakers arena since the memorial service for Kobe and their daughter, Gianna, in 2020. A ceremony was arranged for Pau Gasol's jersey retirement on March 7, 2023, and Vanessa attended it to celebrate her late husband's close friend and teammate. As per People, Vanessa Bryant had not been back to the arena since the public memorial service held for Kobe and Gianna in February 2020, after they died in a helicopter crash along with seven others in California. The memorial service was a poignant moment for the Lakers community and the world, as people paid their respects to the basketball icon and his daughter.
The Lakers retired Gasol's No.16 jersey, which is a fitting tribute to the Spanish basketball player who played seven seasons with the team and helped them win two NBA championships in 2009 and 2010 as per Hollywood Life. Gasol and Kobe Bryant had a special bond that went beyond basketball, and the ceremony was a moment to celebrate their friendship and the memories they created together on and off the court. In her introductory video, Vanessa described Gasol as "special to Kobe as a teammate, as a man, and as a friend." She even used the nickname that Kobe used to call him, "Pablo," which was a personal touch that showed their close relationship.
"He challenged me to be better."— NBA (@NBA) March 8, 2023
Pau Gasol on the impact Kobe Bryant made on his life and career.#GraciasPau pic.twitter.com/dAsgkXvkOD
As per E!News, the Lakers played a video of Kobe praising Gasol, which was a touching moment for everyone present. Gasol then gave a speech where he paid tribute to Kobe and spoke about how much he meant to him: "I can't go on without talking about the person and the face that I don't see, the brother that elevated me, inspired me, challenged me to be a better player, just to be a better man overall." Gasol wished that Kobe and Gianna could be there to witness the ceremony, but he believed that Kobe would be proud of him.
Vanessa Bryant's presence at the ceremony was a significant moment for Lakers fans who have been following her journey since the tragic accident that took Kobe and Gianna's lives. Vanessa has shown incredible strength and resilience in the face of adversity, and her dedication to honoring Kobe and Gianna's legacies has been an inspiration to many. Since the accident, Vanessa has been raising their three daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri, and keeping Kobe and Gianna's memories alive. She has been sharing personal moments on social media and has been involved in various initiatives that honor Kobe's legacy, such as the Mamba Sports Academy and the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.
Vanessa's presence at the ceremony was a reminder of how much Kobe and Gianna meant to her and how deeply she loved them. It was a poignant moment that showed the world how much the Lakers community meant to the Bryant family and how much Kobe's legacy continues to inspire and unite people.
Gasol's retirement ceremony was also a moment to reflect on Kobe's impact on the Lakers and the NBA as a whole. ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported that Gasol spoke about finding it hard not having his friend with him during this special day He said that he remembers "how [Kobe] made me better, how he made us better, how he led us in those runs, and the effect that he had. And then obviously not having him here with us, it's tough.