In an interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Gasol described the moment he found out about the tragedy that took the lives of nine people, including his former teammate and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Pau was in Spain at the time, with his now-wife, Cat, driving home when her phone started getting news alerts and text messages.
You start getting in this trance where you’re completely frozen. You’re just stuck in complete shock. You can’t believe it. I still for days, weeks, I still didn’t want to believe it.Pau Gasol, ESPN
The initial denial grew into a self-created glimmer of hope. It wasn’t logical, nor was it realistic. But it never was with Kobe Bryant. He would always find a way to beat the odds, and at that moment, that’s what Gasol hoped for — that he and his beautiful daughter beat the odds in the most important game of their lives.
You still thought that Kobe could have gotten out of that accident by his own feet and carried his daughter — and if there were any other survivors — with him to the hospital. We had that perception of him as that strong, as that invincible. If someone could have survived it, it was him.Pau Gasol, ESPN
Gasol was shocked. The news left him speechless, in tears for days. But he knew right away what he needed to do. “We just booked a flight to California,” Gasol said. “We decided we needed to be there, and we left. We didn’t know if we were leaving for a week, two weeks, or a month, but we needed to be there.”
We wanted to be close to Vanessa and the kids and be there, as Uncle Pau, for whatever they needed.Pau Gasol, ESPN
Pau and Cat stayed near the Bryants’ for several months, providing the family with as much comfort and care as possible through their unthinkable tragedy. According to Shelbourne, Pau even sent Vanessa flowers on what would’ve been her and Kobe’s 19th anniversary and a birthday cake on what would’ve been Gianna’s 14th birthday in May. Two families even went on a boat trip together.
Gasol did everything he could to help Vanessa and her three daughters through the most difficult time of their lives. And according to him, that’s exactly what Kobe would’ve wanted him to do — to take care of the ones he loves and help others learn from the legacies he and Gianna left in this world.
Pau is still grieving his friend’s death but is making sure to take the burden from the ones suffering the most. He’s doing it unobtrusively, selflessly, and in silence. That’s exactly the type of player Gasol was. That’s the type of teammate he was to Kobe. And that’s the type of person he’ll forever be for the Bryants.