NBA fans paid tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna on Tuesday, marking the one-year anniversary of their deaths in a helicopter crash. Pau Gasol, a former teammate of Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers, was among this group. He posted a heartfelt tribute on Instagram talking about Bryant's impact on his life.
Gasol posted a series of photos on social media while honoring both Bryant and Gianna. One image showed him and the five-time NBA champion together on the court. Another featured Bryant with Gianna sitting on his shoulders. The third showed the late NBA icon celebrating a championship while giving his daughter a kiss.
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"I miss you, hermano… not a day goes by that you are not present in what I do," Gasol wrote on Tuesday. "Your spirit, your drive, your ambition, your love… continues to shine in my life and in many others. Photos, videos, very special moments keep being shared by countless people that have admired you and loved you in their own way, reminding me how incredibly lucky I have been to share some of those moments with you.
Gasol has long been close to the Bryant family and has continued to remain involved in their lives after the tragic helicopter crash. He celebrated Halloween with the family while dressing up as Chewbacca from Star Wars and he sent a cake to Vanessa Bryant on what would have been Gianna's birthday. Gasol and his wife, Catherine McDonnell, also honored Gianna with their newborn daughter's name. Gasol also expressed sadness about Bryant and Gianna being unable to meet the young child.
"I wish you could’ve met our little Elisabet Gianna," Gasol continued. "We will make sure she knows where her middle name comes from… how extraordinary, loving and inspiring her cousin Gigi and her uncle Kobe were. Today, we honor and celebrate both of you, you have left us with so much…, but even if it isn’t how we would like things to be, you are, and always will be, in our hearts."
Gasol was one of the millions posting tributes to Bryant on social media on the anniversary of the helicopter crash. Several wore Lakers jerseys bearing the numbers from his career, including Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets. Others remembered the touching murals that surfaced around the world in the days and months after the crash.