Basketball is a very important sport in Spain, so a Spanish basketball player who is a star of the American basketball league, really is a sporting superstar as far as the Spanish are concerned. This is the case of the seven-foot tall, gentle giant, Paul Gasol who is also famous for his humble and likeable personality.
Pau grew up in a sports-oriented family and both his mother, a doctor, and father, a hospital administrator, played second-division basketball. At the age of 12 Pau was inspired by watching the original basketball Dream Team at the Barcelona Olympics. He studied medicine for one year at Barcelona University, before taking up the offer of professional status as a player. After competing for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies for seven seasons, Pau joined the famous Los Angeles Lakers. He was the first European to be named NBA Rookie (newcomer) of the Year in 2002.
Pau Gasol is now one of the most popular and talented international players in the sport, and it is claimed that his contribution has transformed the performance of the LA Lakers team. The good relationship Pau has with other team members, along with his exceptional talent, has undoubtedly contributed to the success of LA Lakers in recent years.
Pau played with the Spanish national basketball team at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens where they finished in sixth place and he led the Spanish team to a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
In 2003, Gasol was named an Ambassador for Spain’s UNICEF committee and in this role he has travelled to South Africa and Angola to support the fight against HIV/AIDS. He speaks three languages, English, Spanish, and Catalan.
Pau has a younger brother, Marc Gasol, who also plays in American League basketball and his youngest brother Adriá is showing signs of following in his brothers’ footsteps. He was the Spanish flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. This opportunity arose because his close friend, Rafa Nadal, had to withdraw from the Olympics through injury. Despite his disappointment, Nadal said he was delighted to pass the honour to such a worthy sportsman and good friend as Pau Gasol. When his sporting career eventually ends, Pau Gasol still hopes to complete his studies to become a doctor.