Vanessa Bryant Returns To Lakers Arena For 1st Time Since Kobe Memorial To Support Pau Gasol At Jersey Retirement

Vanessa Bryant stepped inside the Lakers' arena for the first time in three years to honor Paul Gasol, the friend, and teammate of her late husband, Kobe Bryant.

Reading Time: 3 minutes
View gallery
Image Credit: London Entertainment /

The Los Angeles Lakers retired Pau Gasol‘s No. 16 jersey on Tuesday (Mar. 7), and Vanessa Bryant was on hand to support the two-time NBA champion and six-time NBA All-Star. Vanessa, 40, walked onto the court of the arena, marking her first time back at the Lakers’ home stadium since the 2020 memorial to her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their daughter, Gianna Bryant. For the event, Vanessa wore a black off-the-shoulder gown, her hair flowing free as she watched Pau become the 12th Laker in the team’s history to have his jersey retired.

(London Entertainment /

Vanessa opened the ceremony by playing a 2018 recording of Kobe at the Academy Awards, in which the late basketball star spoke highly about his friend. “Pau, when he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine,” said Kobe, per ESPN. “The reality is, I don’t win those championships without Pau. The city of L.A. doesn’t have those two championships without Pau. We know that. Everybody knows that. And I really look forward to the day when he’s there giving his speech at center court in front of all the fans who have supported him over the years. And so, it’s going to be an awesome night.”

“I love you, sister,” Pau said to Vanessa after he took the microphone. “I’m proud to be your brother. I’m proud to be an uncle to your lovely girls.” He then got emotional when speaking about Kobe. ” “I can’t go on without talking about the person and the face that I don’t see,” said Pau. “The brother that elevated me challenged me, inspired me to be a better player. Just to be a better man overall. … I miss him. I miss him so much, like many of us do,” Gasol said. “I love him. I wish he was here with Gigi. I really do. But I think he’ll be proud. And he was looking forward to this moment. So, I love you, brother.”

London Entertainment /

Pau joined the Lakers in February 2008 and helped the team win back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. He was only the second Spanish player in the NBA then and the first to win a championship. His jersey will now hang alongside those belonging to famous lakers like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal.

At the start of March, Vanessa reached a $28.5 million settlement with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Vanessa sued the LA Sheriff’s office, alleging that first responders caused “severe emotional distress” by taking photos of Kobe and Gigi’s dead bodies following the 2020 helicopter crash that killed them and seven others. Fearing that the images would be leaked online, Vanessa sought to “hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” her lawyer said following the settlement. The settlement amount includes the $15 million she won in her invasion-of-privacy case.

More From Our Partners