Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were a dynamic force on the court winning two NBA titles together with the Los Angeles Lakers and were close friends off the court as well. Their bond was cemented even more when Pau’s wife Cat gave birth to a baby girl last September and they named her in honor of Bryant’s daughter Gianna, who perished along with her father and seven others in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.
During a one-hour, prime-time special, “SportsCenter presents Kobe – The Legend, The Legacy” that aired on ESPN Sunday night, January 24, 2021, the retired hoops star explained the baby’s name, saying, “My daughter’s full name is Elisabet Gianna Gasol. It’s a way, not just to honor Gianna, but to always have them present.”
Pau Gasol and his wife, Catherine McDonnell, have remained close with Bryant’s family since the tragedy, and Vanessa Bryant has even posted pictures of the baby on Instagram, revealing that she’s also the child’s godmother.
“They’re our family, and in which way can you have them more present than to have it in your daughter’s name or your son’s?” Gasol said. “We had more issues coming up with her first name than with her middle name. It represents so much, the name. The kindness, the heart that Gianna had, the talent, just with the toughness that she showed. Her dad and her mom in her, it’s something that has a lot of meaning to us, and that’s why she’s named Elisabet Gianna.”
Tuesday, Jan. 26, will mark the one-year anniversary of the tragic crash. Gasol’s younger brother Marc now plays for the Lakers and has had a hard time dealing with his friend Kobe and Gianna’s deaths, too. During a post-game interview on Saturday, Jan. 23, after the Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls 101-90, the young center was fielding questions but put a pause on the interview when asked about the upcoming anniversary of Bryant’s death.
“I’m really not comfortable talking about it, sorry,” Marc Gasol explained. “Still, to this day, I have never really talked about it. I’m sorry that I cannot give you thoughts or stuff on it… He will always be a part of, not only the team, but the franchise, the city. For each player … it’s very emotional. He was obviously someone that we looked up to. Sorry. Sorry I could not give you a better answer.”
Sometimes words aren’t needed. Check the photo below as Pau Gasol and his family ensure Gianna’s memory will live on.
Watch the segment from SportsCenter presents Kobe – The Legend, The Legacy” about Bryant and Pau Gasol’s friendship on and off the court on the next page.