“The name of Pau Gasol is in our halls and it means a lot”

In October 2012, Pau Gasol was going to start his sixth season, his fifth complete, with the Los Angeles Lakers. He had already won his two championship rings along with Kobe Bryant, and the franchise had just delivered a coup that made a lot of noise but went downright wrong with the signing of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.

The Lakers didn’t even come close to the glory of just over a couple of years before, but that only it’s basketball. A lot, a lot for some players at the top of their profession, but not all. In that same October of 2012, while his team was monopolizing debates and headlines for its new collection of stars, Pau Gasol told Mark Medina, a classic in the Californian sports press who then worked for Los Angeles Timesthat your visits to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles They helped him feel “complete as a human being.”

Pau wanted to “make a difference”. And Marlene Bugarin, who was already part of the hospital’s public relations department at that time, now perfectly explains to AS how she achieved it: “A child could be very sad, but Pau would come to visit and that made a difference. I remember those visits and it was something that filled me a lot because she is a very honest, genuine person. I remember how we prepared everything, the surprises for the children who were admitted… that was the best”.

Mapping Pau Gasol from his time in Los Angeles implies, as soon as you set foot in the city, seeing beyond the purple and gold of the Lakers, understanding that basketball is the engine of his legacy but far from the only thing that defined it. a player who came to start a medical career (“he wanted to cure people”), the world he had known in his childhood through his parents’ work. That’s why now, when the Lakers have decided to withdraw number 16 from him and give him a new weight in the legend of the legends franchiseSome like her smile for the former player… but especially for the person: “We are very happy, Pau means something very special to our hospital. His name is on our halls, and it’s synonymous with Los Angeles. because he did everything he could for our center and for the city. That is why she is in our hearts ”.

CHLA, with its photogenic Sunset Boulevard curb-to-curb bridge, is one of America’s leading children’s hospitals. It has nearly 500 beds, about 900 doctors, and about 6,500 employees in total. According to US News and World Reportis the best children’s hospital in California and one of the top five in the United States. Opened in 1901 in East Hollywood, it was the place that Pau Gasol approached because he simply wanted to give a helping hand: “First he met one of our surgeons. And because of that, because of his concerns, because he had studied medicine… He wanted to attend an operation, so he was present at a spinal cord surgery on a girl. It started like that, but I think that his stay in LA was the opportunity that he wanted to have to help the children, spend time with them and their families… He did a lot of things”.

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Bugarin saw how he visited the hospital without cameras or public promotion: “You could tell that he wanted to be there. He finished training and came. He was very tired and it was hard for him because of the traffic in this city, but he made time to be with our patients. I think he saw twice a month. He got along well with the families, he transmitted empathy… It didn’t matter if they were children who had cancer or who had undergone complex surgeries. They were very special moments. The children were eager to see him and he had time for everyone. He stayed two or three hours and he established real relationships with the sick and also with the doctors, the nurses…”.

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Precisely in the 2011-12 season, Pau took the Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, the award with which the NBA recognized “the work and dedication in the community.” He has been linked to UNICEF for two decades and his Gasol Foundation combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyle habits. All of this, the player off the basketball court, is also the Pau Gasol that is adored in Los Angeles and, of course, in the CHLA. Also for the economic donations and the image of him in any campaign that was necessary, including an interactive game, ‘Where is Pau‘, created to introduce new areas of the hospital.

“It reached agreements with a Spanish company, Grifols, so that they donated technology for our pharmacy service. He was trying to get us connected to the NBA… we gave him the prize Courage to Care for everything he did for the hospital and their families. And he was fully deserved”, ends a Marlen Bugarin who remembers that gala, in which Pau and the model Heidi Klum were the visible faces under the umbrella of Walt Disney. Courage to Care: the courage to take care of the rest. That also goes, with the name of Pau Gasol and his number 16, on the roof of the crypto.com Sand. That, of course, it’s also his legacy in LA How could it not be.

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