LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In a heartfelt Instagram post, former Lakers star Pau Gasol paid tribute to Kobe Bryant on Tuesday, a year after he died in a tragic helicopter crash.
Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven others were remembered Tuesday by the sports world and beyond on the one-year anniversary of their deaths. All nine were on board a helicopter on their way to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks when it crashed in Calabasas.READ MORE: Kevin De Leon Enters LA Mayoral Race
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“I miss you, hermano…not a day goes by that you are not present in what I do,” Gasol wrote. “Your spirit, your drive, your ambition, your love…continues to shine in my life and in many others.”
Gasol — whose instant rapport with Bryant helped the team win the 2009 NBA Championships, the Lakers first title in seven years — remained close with his former teammate’s family even after he was traded away from the Lakers and Bryant retired from basketball. Gasol’s first daughter was given the middle name Gianna, in honor of 13-year-old Gigi.
“I wish you could’ve met our little Elisabet Gianna,” he said in the post. “We will make sure she knows where her middle name comes from…how extraordinary, loving and inspiring her cousin Gigi and her uncle Kobe were.”
Shaquille O’Neal, whose famous falling-out with Bryant would result in team’s championship drought between 2002 and 2009, said his former teammate achieved his dream of being the biggest name in basketball – but would not want the world to dwell on his untimely death.MORE NEWS: Jo Lasorda, Wife Of Dodgers Great Tommy Lasodra, Passes Away At 91
“He would probably say carry on. He would probably say, you know, thank you,” he told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.