NBA star Pau Gasol, who won two back-to-back championships with Kobe Bryant during their time on the Los Angeles Lakers, opened up to the Los Angeles Times about hearing the news of his former teammate’s death.
In a video interview with the Times, the 39-year-old center from Spain said he was driving home with his wife, Catherine McDonnell, when the reports of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, first broke.
“ got a message from a friend saying that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash. I didn’t quite understand what she was saying,” he recalled, adding that McDonnell later told him that his face turned white in the moment. “I’m listening to those words, and I let them sink into my mind.”
“I get home and I just started crying, it was hard to find words, I couldn’t talk to anyone for days,” Gasol told the outlet. “The only person I talked to was .”
“I basically didn’t leave the house,” he added.
Gasol joined forces with Bryant in 2008, when he was traded to the Lakers from the Memphis Grizzlies. The seven-footer made the team instant contenders for the NBA championship, helping to lead the Lakers to an NBA finals appearance that season, where they lost to the Boston Celtics.
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Gasol continued on to say that other than leaving for a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment, the NBA star only left his home in the time following Bryant’s death to catch a plane to L.A.
“It just felt wrong being away from here,” he told the Times. “I needed to be here, to be close to his family and be available.”
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