Entertainment Sports Vanessa Bryant Goes to Lakers' Arena for the First Time Since Kobe's Memorial to Honor Pau Gasol Vanessa was in attendance as Gasol, the legendary Laker and longtime teammate of Kobe's, had his No. 16 jersey retired By Julie Mazziotta Julie Mazziotta Twitter Julie Mazziotta is the Sports Editor at PEOPLE, covering everything from the NFL to tennis to Simone Biles and Tom Brady. She was previously an Associate Editor for the Health vertical for six years, and prior to joining PEOPLE worked at Health Magazine. When not covering professional athletes, Julie spends her time as a (very) amateur athlete, training for marathons, long bike trips and hikes. People Editorial Guidelines and Ingrid Vasquez Ingrid Vasquez Twitter Ingrid Vasquez is a Digital News Writer at PEOPLE. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor in Journalism. Before joining the team, she worked as an Editor at FanSided and provided work in the celebrity and lifestyle space for brands that include Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, EW, and more. People Editorial Guidelines Published on March 7, 2023 10:13 PM Share Tweet Pin Email For the first time since Feb. 24, 2020, the day of Kobe and Gianna Bryant's memorial service, Vanessa Bryant walked on the court at the Lakers' arena, this time to honor her late husband's close friend and teammate Pau Gasol as the team retired his No. 16 jersey. In Tuesday's ceremony, the Los Angeles Lakers owners and players talked about Gasol's legacy on the team — from his two NBA championships and multiple All-Star Game appearances — and lifted his number to the rafters. NBA Hall-of-Famer Pau Gasol Named Recipient of 2023 Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award Gasol, 42, was a close friend of Kobe's and has stood by Vanessa, 40, and her daughters — Natalia, 20, Bianka, 6, and Capri, 3 — since Kobe and Gianna died in a helicopter crash along with seven others on January 26, 2020. Talking to reporters after arriving at the arena on Tuesday, he talked candidly about his time on the court with Kobe. In a clip shared on the NBA's Twitter account, he shared: "He definitely inspired me and showed me what it took to be the best player that you could be. 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." Ahead of the ceremony, Gasol also talked about how he would not be in this position without Kobe and would be thinking of him throughout the night. Pau Gasol on Being a Proud Girl Dad, Supporting Vanessa Bryant and Her Daughters "It's impossible [to separate]," Gasol said, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "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." Vanessa had not been back to the Los Angeles arena — then called the Staples Center and now Crypto.com Arena — since Kobe and Gianna's memorial service. She delivered a heartbreaking eulogy to her husband and their 13-year-old daughter that day. Vanessa Bryant Delivers Heartbreaking Tribute to Kobe and Gianna at Celebration of Life "They were so easy to love. Everyone naturally gravitated toward them. They were funny, happy, silly, and they loved life. They were so full of joy and adventure," Vanessa told the packed arena. "God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together," said Vanessa before telling her late husband: "Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nani, B.B. and Koko. We're still the best team. May you both rest in peace and have fun in Heaven until we meet again one day. We love you both and miss you. Forever and always, Mommy."