The Crossroads Of Papa Pau Gasol

The most successful Spanish basketball player in history ponders his future. She lives happily after the birth of her daughter and pending on Kobe Bryant's family

As for the whole world, 2020 has not been an exception for Pau Gasol, and it is one of the most turbulent years of his life. Personally, the player is going through a moment of happiness.

In July, he turned 40 and celebrated with his wife, Catherine McDonnell, while they awaited their first daughter’s birth. She came into the world last month, and her name is Elisabet Gianna, a name that is a tribute and, at the same time, the memory of the saddest episode Gasol has experienced this year.

The little girl is named after the daughter of Kobe Bryant, who died with him in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles on January 26. A fact that has marked the most crucial Spanish basketball player in history. A strong friendship united the Barcelona man with Bryant, and for that reason, he is very aware of the family of the legendary Lakers player.

Gasol honored him this week when the Californian team won its seventeenth NBA title. “This is for you brother, for you Gianna, for Vanessa, for Natalia, for Bianka and for Capri,” he proclaimed. Many emotions at a key moment in the pivot’s career.

After a year and a half off the courts due to injury, he has announced that next month he will decide whether to retire or if he chooses to fully recover from playing for Spain in the next Olympic Games.

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Family is the highest priority for Pau Gasol. Even more so since the birth of Elisabet Gianna on September 10, an event that the athlete and his wife, Catherine, shared through social networks. “Our little girl is already with us! Everything went very well and we couldn’t be happier! Elisabet Gianna Gasol, a name with a lot of meaning for our precious daughter”, they announced.

The girl came into the world on the same day that her parents celebrated two years of their marriage. Pau has said that she is very good that she is healthy and sleeps well.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused Gasol to spend more time with his wife during these months, experiencing McDonnel’s pregnancy closely, a 31-year-old Californian financier with whom she resides in an impressive home near some of the best golf courses in the San Francisco area. She has returned to playing this sport just a few days after giving birth, and he has wanted to accompany her.

The most familiar side of Pau during the last year has influenced how the death of Kobe Bryant has affected him, and in the way, he turned to his friend’s family.

Gasol left the Lakers six years ago but has always remained linked to the team that provided him with some of his greatest successes and some of his best friends. Among them, Kobe. Pau considered Bryant as his mentor, almost an older brother.

Together with him, he got two NBA champion rings, and they forged a great friendship. The tragic loss of the black mamba is still very present in his daily life, and the Catalan is in permanent contact with Vanessa, Bryant’s wife, and their daughters.

A broken family for which Spanish is one more member. Kobe’s daughters call him “Uncle Pau,” and he spends time with them whenever he can. They shared a sailing day during the summer holidays and calling their first daughter Gianna has been the definitive proof of the indelible memory she keeps of her friend and teacher.

Bryant’s death has not been the only personal blow Pau has experienced in this bittersweet year. He has also mourned two other good friends’ disappearance, the writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon and the musician Pau Dones.

The confinement, which Gasol spent at his home in California, has helped the athlete rethink his recovery and focus his daily activity on solidarity activities and raise funds against the pandemic.

“In the face of adversity, you have to identify opportunities and how to take advantage of the time to dedicate yourself to positive things,” he announced a few months ago, at a time when he had to modify his plan to return from an injury that has kept him away from the courts since March 2019.

“This pandemic, in spite of all the bad things that it has brought us, is giving me a little more margin to regain that footing, and the progression is being positive. In the next month or month and a half, I will find out if I can compete again “, he declared in an interview this summer, in which he assured that if” there are any complications or things are not going as they should, “he would confirm the end of his sports race. Now it seems that he will hurry until December since his dream is to say goodbye by playing and, if possible, defending the colors of Spain at the Tokyo Olympics next summer.

Pau Gasol only thinks about having retirement at the height of his career, that of the best basketball player in Spain’s history. A farewell that he wants to be on a court.

Bismarck Lepe

Bismarck Lepe is CEO and founder of Wizeline, a product intelligence company that helps businesses drive the development of products. Prior to Wizeline, Lepe was a co-founder and founding CEO of Ooyala, a video technology platform company. At Ooyala, he raised $20 million in funding and led the strategy that drove its early growth and success. Previously, he was an early employee at Google, responsible for Ads Quality products and Video Advertising, which contributed over $1 billion in revenue.

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