Austin community pays tribute to Kobe, Gigi Bryant with local mural

Article Originally Published 2/2/20 at The Daily Texan

Kobe and Gigi Bryant Honored with Mural by Graffiti Artists in Austin, Texas — Video by Austin Martinez

To honor the lives of NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant, local graffiti artists designed a mural featuring the father and daughter to provide the Austin community a place to pay their respects.

Kobe and his daughter died in a helicopter crash which killed seven others in California last week. The mural, which took eight hours to complete, is located on the wall behind the Sushi Hi restaurant on 2912 Guadalupe St. 

Felix Jaimes, one of the mural’s artists, said the mural is bringing people together during a tragic time.

“This mural, to us, is our way of paying our respects to those in the accident who passed away,” Jaimes said. “Fan or not a fan of Kobe, everybody knows about him. He made a huge impact on a lot of people.”

Biochemistry freshman Lorenzo Molina visited the mural on Saturday and said Kobe was a major influencer in his decision to start playing basketball as a kid. 

“It meant a lot to me because I didn’t think I was going to have anywhere to go to remember Kobe and what he’s done,” Molina said. “I’ve seen pictures of the murals that are in Los Angeles and New York but I didn’t expect one to pop up here in Austin, so I’m very grateful for this one.”

Although a San Antonio Spurs fan, Molina said he recognizes the large impact Kobe has on the game of basketball. Molina said he witnessed this impact when he heard the entire crowd roar every time Kobe touched the ball during a game Molina attended as a fourth grader.

“His impact really can’t be calculated,” Molina said. “This mural means a lot because he’s impacted an entire generation, basketball-loving or not.”

Public health senior Kassa Kassahun said he was always amazed by Kobe’s talent when he attended Kobe’s games in Dallas. Kassahun said the new Austin mural serves as a physical reminder of Kobe’s legacy as an athlete and father. 

“To see that other people have the same love for him and will go out of their way to paint a whole mural for him is beautiful,” Kassahun said. “Hopefully, that mural will be there for as long as possible.”

The mural shows Austin has much love for Kobe and Gianna, said business freshman Daniel Yznaga. He said he spent his birthday watching Kobe score 60 points during his last game, which is his favorite memory of the NBA star. 

“He made a really big impact because everyone says, ‘Kobe,’ when they try to shoot something,” Yznaga said. “He was great in what seemed like everything he did.”

Acknowledging the love Kobe had for Gianna and her passion for the game, mathematics freshman Chad Graham said he appreciates the artists included Gianna in the mural.

“Including Gigi is important because Kobe was more than a basketball player,” Graham said. “It shows that he was proud to be a #girldad.”

Graham said the mural illustrates people will admire Kobe for a long time. 

“It shows that he’ll always be here and he’ll live in basketball for forever.” Graham said. “His work ethic, talent and everything he’s given to the world is not going anywhere, just like art won’t go anywhere. … His impact is bigger than LA and it’s bigger than basketball. His death has affected the whole world.”

Cover Photo Credit: Jack Myer, Daily Texan Staff

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