Vanessa Bryant Goes to Lakers Arena for First Time Since Kobe's Memorial
Vanessa Bryant returned to the Los Angeles Lakers' arena for the first time since her husband's memorial service on Feb. 24, 2020. On Tuesday, Bryant was in attendance to honor Pau Gasol as the team retired his No. 16 jersey. Gasol and Kobe Bryant were close friends as they played together from 2008-2014.
Kobe died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna and seven others on Jan. 26, 2020. Before the ceremony, Gasol talked about playing with Kobe. "He definitely inspired me and showed me what it took to be the best player that you could be," Gasol said, per PEOPLE. "The work ethic, the dedication, the mindset going into it. He challenged me to be better with his actions and with his work. He was very intentional with his actions."
Vanessa Bryant, and daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri arrive to say hello to Pau Gasol. #Lakers #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/WV3mDCc78N— Michael J. Duarte (@michaeljduarte) March 8, 2023
While Gasol was playing with Kobe, the Lakers won NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. He also made the All-Star team three times during his run in L.A. and was selected to the All-NBA Team three times. "It's impossible [to separate]," Gasol said, per ESPN. "It's inevitable. I don't know how. ... My number goes up there, in big reason, because of him. And also how he 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."
Together in the rafters 💜💛 pic.twitter.com/24JHyDeBeD— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 8, 2023
The last time Vanessa attended the Lakers' arena, which is now called Crypto.com Arena, she delivered an emotional eulogy to her husband and daughter. "I couldn't see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player," she said about Kobe. "He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. He was my — he was my everything."
For Gianna, Vanessa said, "She knew how much her morning and evening kisses meant to me. She was so thoughtful to remember to kiss me every day. She was Daddy's girl but I know she loved her mama. She would always tell me and show me how much she loved me. She was one of my very best friends. She loved faith, she loved putting a smile on everyone's faces." Vanessa added, "I cannot imagine life without her. Mommy, Natalia, Bianka, Capri and Daddy love you so much, Gigi. I will miss your sweet handmade cards, your sweet kisses and your gorgeous smile. I miss you, all of you, every day. I love you."