As Pau Gasol, a friend and former teammate of Kobe Bryant, had his Lakers jersey retired on Tuesday, Vanessa Bryant shocked the crowd by showing them previously unreleased Kobe Bryant footage.
Gasol shed a tear at the ceremony, he and The Lakers won two NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. Furthermore, Kobe Bryant’s retired jersey will hang next to that of Gasol, who shared the court with him throughout their playing days.
Vanessa Bryant gave a touching letter to Gasol that played at the beginning of the tribute on Tuesday by introducing Pau. An older video from 2016 in which Vanessa Bryant predicted that Marc Gasol would retire from the NBA appeared after her introduction.
Prior to the Los Angeles Laker’s 112-103 victories over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, Pau Gasol’s #16 jersey was retired as team owners and players gathered to honor his contributions to the franchise.
Gasol expressed his gratitude to the venue for recognizing his contribution to the team. He clarified, however, that he would be unable to go without paying tribute to his late friend Kobe Bryant.
The 7-foot former Laker also mentioned how he wished Bryant and his late daughter Gigi could have been present for this special occasion.
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Vanessa Bryant Returns to Lakers Arena
Vanessa last visited Crypto.com Arena in February 2020, when she went to Gianna and Kobe’s funeral. The memorial service was held about a month after Kobe, Gianna, and seven other people perished in a helicopter crash in California.
In memory of Kobe and Gianna since their deaths, Vanessa, who is also the mother of daughters Natalia (20), Bianka (6), and Capri (3), posted on Instagram on his birthday in August, saying, “I love you and miss you very much!”
Pau discussed how Kobe affected him as a player during a news conference about the retirement of his jersey.
“He definitely inspired me and showed me what it took to be the best player that you could be, the work ethic, the dedication, the mindset going into it,” he said. “He challenged me to be better with his actions, with his work. He was very, I think intentional with his actions. I was in. I was all the way in. So, I would go as far as he would want me to go, and I wanted to win. It was a very special time and very special year.”
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