Vanessa Bryant Returns to the Los Angeles Lakers' Arena for the First Time Since Kobe's Memorial

Vanessa made her return to honor her late husband's close friend and teammate, Pau Gasol, as the team retired his No. 16 jersey.

It's been a little over three years since Vanessa Bryant walked out on the court at the Los Angeles Lakers' arena on Feb. 24, 2020, for the memorial service of her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their daughter, Gianna. On March 7, Vanessa made her return to the venue -- then called the Staples Center and now Arena -- to honor her late husband's close friend and teammate, Pau Gasol, as the team retired his No. 16 jersey.

During the ceremony, the Lakers owners and players talked about Gasol's legacy on the team, which includes two NBA championships and multiple All-Star Game appearances, and lifted his number to the rafters.

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In a clip shared by the Lakers' Twitter account, Vanessa introduced Gasol for the ceremony, saying that the athlete was "special to Kobe as a teammate, as a man, and as a friend."

"Pablo, Kobe predicted you and he would be together in the rafters," she added, before a never-before-seen video of Kobe played. In the video, the late NBA star says, "There's no debate. Pau, when he retires, he will have his numbers in the rafters next to mine. The reality is, I don't win those championships without Pau. The CAA doesn't have those two championships without Pau. So, we know that, everybody knows that. I really look forward to the day when he's there giving his speech at center court in front of all his fans that have supported him over the years. It's going to be an awesome night."

In a clip shared on the NBA's Twitter account, Gasol spoke to reporters after arriving at the arena on Tuesday, talking candidly about his time on the court with Kobe.

"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 shared. "He challenged me to be better with his actions and with his work. He was very intentional with his actions."

Later that night, Gasol spoke of his "brother" once again, telling the crowd that Kobe "elevated me, inspired me, challenged me to be a better player and a better man overall. I miss him so much like many of us do. I love him, I wish he were here with Gigi...But I think he'd be proud."

Vanessa recently reached a settlement with Los Angeles County over the sharing of graphic photos from the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed her husband, daughter, and seven others.

ET confirmed per Vanessa's lawyer, Luis Li, that Los Angeles County has agreed to pay Vanessa and her three daughters -- Natalia, 20, Bianka, 6, and Capri, 3 -- more than $28 million, which includes the $15 million they were awarded by a jury last summer. Vanessa's co-plaintiff, Christopher Chester, was also awarded $15 million.

In a statement shared with ET by Li, Vanessa's attorney said that this marks the end of the Bryant family's fight for her late husband, daughter and the families and community of those who lost their lives in the horrific crash.

"Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct," the statement reads. "She fought for her husband, her daughter, and all those in the community whose deceased family were treated with similar disrespect. We hope her victory at trial and this settlement will put an end to this practice."

After learning that some employees of L.A. county’s fire and sheriff’s departments had shared graphic photos of human remains from the crash, Vanessa sued for negligence and invasion of privacy in September 2020 and won at trial in August 2022. Following that win, Vanessa, who left the courthouse without making a statement to the press, took to Instagram to share a photo of herself, Kobe, and Gianna, which she captioned, "All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi! #Betonyourself #MambaDay 8•24•22."

Days after the jury awarded Vanessa and her family the money, her lawyer announced that she plans to give an unspecified amount of the verdict award to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit that continues Kobe and Gianna's legacies by offering opportunities to underprivileged young athletes.

"From the beginning, Vanessa Bryant has sought only accountability, but our legal system does not permit her to force better policies, more training or officer discipline," Li said in a statement. "Those measures are the responsibility of the sheriff's and fire departments -- responsibilities that Mrs. Bryant's efforts have exposed as woefully deficient, even giving amnesty to the wrongdoers."

He added that Bryant "never faltered, even when the county attempted to force her to submit to an involuntary psychiatric examination."