L.A. Muralists Remember Kobe Bryant’s Legacy on First Official “Kobe Bryant Day”
Kobe Bryant is nothing short of an NBA legend, inspiring people both on and off of the court. Known as one of the best players in the NBA, he remained loyal to the L.A. Lakers all 20 years of his career, after being drafted straight out of high school. Bryant retired his jersey with an MVP award and ranks fourth in most points scored throughout a player’s career. Off the court, Kobe inspired others through his caring nature. He and his wife Vanessa created a non-profit organization, the “Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.” Through this philanthropy, the Bryants focused on enriching the lives of in-need young people and their families. Kobe Bryant’s good-hearted nature is also seen in the immense amounts of love and respect for the people in his life: his family, teammates, mentors, coaches, even competing teams. On January 26th, 2020, the world was shaken after a helicopter crashed with nine people on board, including Bryant and his 12-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant. In honour of the late basketball player, L.A. officials declared August 24th “Kobe Bryant Day” dedicated to Bryant’s jersey numbers 8 and 24. Although Bryant’s time on earth was cut short, he left an ever-lasting impact on the world. Many artists pay tribute to the legend on Kobe Day with over 200 murals throughout Southern California.
Many of the murals can be found surrounding the Staples Center, home to the L.A. Lakers. Each mural encompasses the dedication and passion Bryant showed to his team. One of the most visited murals was done by Jonas Never, an L.A.-based muralist. This mural captures Kobe’s reaction after scoring a three-point shot during the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets. The artwork reveals Kobe’s raw intensity as he pulls on his shirt and screams in exhilaration. In the background, the Los Angeles Lakers logo is replaced with the words “Los Angeles Culture.” The play on words embraces how Kobe’s legacy is embroidered into the foundation of L.A.’s hustle mindset. Bryant embodies the definition of hard work; he built his career from the ground up and always strived to be the best. This mindset is known as his “Mamba Mentality,” deriving from his nickname the Black Mamba. The Mamba Mentality, in Bryant’s own words, is “focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most. It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit.” While this mural is one of many, the Mamba Mentality is not forgotten in any mural of the NBA star.
However, Bryant was not only known for his legacy on the court but off the court as well. Other murals throughout L.A. County are in dedication to Kobe’s life as a father as well. In remembrance of both Kobe and his daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, many artists effectively shine light upon Kobe’s love for family- embodying the family-natured side of the basketball star. One mural done by Tha Sloe shows Kobe smiling down on Gianna with angel wings on the back of the two. The father and daughter duo are also depicted wearing their jerseys and have nimbi around their heads, symbolizing holiness/sacristy through the use of light. Their bond is established further both in their smiles and in the expression in their eyes while looking at each other. Kobe and Gigi were taken from the world too soon, yet lived their lives full of love, passion, and dedication. The two had a father-daughter bond unlike any other, and will forever be remembered.