NBA Hall-of-Famer Pau Gasol Named Recipient of 2023 Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award

Vanessa Bryant and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will present Pau Gasol with the award during the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday evening

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty

NBA legend Pau Gasol will be awarded the league's 2023 Kobe & Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award, the WNBA announced on Sunday afternoon.

Gasol, 42, is set to be honored with the award for his "significant contributions to the advancement of girls' and women's basketball," the WNBA said in a release.

Vanessa Bryant and WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert will present the two-time NBA champion with the award during the NBA All-Star Game in Utah on Sunday evening.

"I'm so pleased that Pau has been chosen to receive this award. Pau has done so much to promote women and girls in sports and cares deeply about spreading a message of equality, which was so important to Kobe and Gianna," said Bryant, 40, the Chair of the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a positive impact for underserved athletes and boys and girls in sports.

"We are grateful to the WNBA and Pau for continuing to honor Kobe and Gianna in this way," she added.

Pau Gasol
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

In a statement, Gasol said receiving the award is "an honor" that makes the six-time NBA All-Star "especially happy because it represents two people who are and will always be in my heart."

He added, "Kobe's work, especially during his later years, to support women's sports is an excellent example of where we must direct our efforts to ensure full equality in sports."

Along with his brother Marc, the NBA legend created the Gasol Foundation, which aims to reduce child obesity rates by promoting physical activity, healthy eating, sleep quality and emotional well-being.

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WNBA Commissioner Engelbert applauded Gasol for his "work in the community" and his "support as a WNBA investor" in a statement from the league. "Pau has shown to be a longtime advocate in his career for the league and women's sports advocate, helping to carry on the legacy of Kobe and Gigi," she said.

"Pau serves as a leader for women's basketball at the national team level and has been a vocal advocate for the prioritization of women in professional and coaching pipelines. Pau is a role model for other male athletes and the league is proud to name him as the 2023 recipient of the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award," added Engelbert.

Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

On behalf of Gasol, the WNBA will make a donation to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

Gasol is the second recipient of the award after Chris Paul was named the inaugural recipient in 2022.

The Kobe and Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy award "aims to honor advocates and influencers who use their time, talent, and platform to raise awareness for the WNBA, and women's and girls' basketball in various ways, like Kobe was so committed to doing," the WNBA said in a statement. "The Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award highlights Kobe's legacy as a coach and mentor and Gigi's inspirational, relentless commitment to playing at the highest levels of the game."

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