How artists worldwide continue to honor Kobe Bryant's legacy



How artists worldwide continue to honor Kobe Bryant's legacy A Kobe Bryant mural painted by Danielle Weber in Melbourne, Australia. Photo courtesy of Danielle Weber

LOS ANGELES -- On the day of Kobe Bryant's death in Jan. 2020, the plaza outside of Arena overflowed with people. Fans placed tributes everywhere. Flowers covered the ground. Tears replaced words.

A stunned silence overcame the venue's entertainment complex as it offered a place for Bryant fans to pay their respects and grieve together. In the hours and days after his passing, Los Angeles Lakers and Bryant fans found comfort in another avenue -- art.

In a Miami neighborhood, Gustavo Zermeño Jr. painted Bryant twice. One mural depicted Mamba side-by-side with Dwyane Wade, the other with the Lakers legend dribbling alone.

In Brooklyn, Efren Andaluz painted a mural of Bryant and his daughter Gianna in front of Barclays Center -- the last road arena where the father and daughter watched an NBA game. Andaluz also included the names of everyone that died in the helicopter crash that took Bryant and Gianna's lives.

Set on a wall with graded gates at an intersection near the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center Station, one of the busiest subways in Brooklyn, people loved it.

"People would come in, they would talk to me about Kobe, how much he meant to them, his mentality," Andaluz told ESPN. "Some people were like well, why am I putting Kobe there? And then other people just understood, like it's Kobe. Kobe can go wherever he wants to go."

Minutes away from Arena, Louie Palsino worked on a mural of Bryant and Gianna with angel wings attached to their bodies.

Fans from across the world came to watch Palsino paint. They brought him food and Bryant gear as they remembered the former Laker through their tears. One of Palsino's friends thanked him for what he was doing for the city.

"People came and were crying and I sat there and talked with 'em and I shared the pain with them," Palsino told ESPN. "It was different, man. There'll never be nothing like that again, man."


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Four years since Bryant's death, a statue will be unveiled in his honor in front of Arena on Thursday. It will be yet another tribute to a legacy that people around the world have worked tirelessly to uphold.

THOUGH THERE WERE murals of Bryant before 2020 -- especially in Los Angeles -- they took off around the world after his death. People often shared them on social media, but mostly without crediting the artist or including the location.

Mike, who declined to provide his last name, decided to start an Instagram page (@kobemural) to make it easier for fans to find the murals. A lifelong Lakers and Bryant fan, he began organizing them on a map and including pinpoint locations in case people wanted to visit.

As Mike posted more on social media, he eventually created a free website, which expanded to different continents around the world. As of Feb. 6, the map has 639 murals with 6.4 million total viewers.

"It's really been inspiring to see what these artists are doing," Mike told ESPN. "And I just want to play some small part in giving back to the community and the Bryant family."

Communities and artists have helped sustain Bryant's legacy around the world. While there are 459 total murals in the United States, with 342 in Southern California alone, there are also 180 internationally. A mural even resides in Boston, home of the Lakers' rival Boston Celtics.


Confirming the locations in Los Angeles was easy, but pinpointing them in places internationally wasn't as simple.

Mike would receive an email or message on Instagram about a mural someone had seen, prompting a back-and-forth exchange that included photos of the art and confirmation of the location to ensure that if someone visited it, they would find it.

For that reason, Mike emphasized that his Instagram account is a community-sourced project that wouldn't be possible without the fans.

There may not have been a stronger example of the community banding together than last September. Mike heard from a Los Angeles business owner about the possibility of Palsino's mural being removed.

Mike started a petition to support the mural staying up, which garnered over 90,000 signatures. Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, shared it on social media. The mural now remains, and for Palsino and Mike, it exemplified how much the murals mean to Bryant fans.

"People made it very clear in that petition that these are important to the cities. These are important to the fans," Mike said. "And still to this day people go and pay respect and they appreciate more than anything Kobe and Gianna and the artist."

Palsino -- @sloe_motions on social media -- said he has painted at least 40 murals of the Lakers legend. But the one of Bryant and Gianna stands as one of his more famous pieces.

Artist Louie Palsino with his mural of Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
Artist Louie Palsino with his mural of Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

Palsino decided to honor Bryant with a mural immediately after his death, likening it to Superman dying when you're a kid. He felt prepared to pour his heart out into "how much I cared for him, the family and just what he did for LA."

"As soon as I heard it, I was more in shock and it was either sit in depression and sit in sadness or get up and do something about it, you know?" Palsino said. "And help heal people through the art that I do and help express our feelings through the paintings."

Keywords: Kobe Bryant NBA

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