The death of basketball player and philanthropist Kobe Bryant sent shockwaves through the entertainment world on January 26, 2020. Along with his daughter Gianna and several others, Bryant was in a helicopter crash en route to a youth basketball tournament. On a fog-covered hill in Calabasas, all nine people on board died.
As the only NBA player to have spent 20 years of his career with a single team, Bryant was beloved by Lakers fans. His “Mamba mentality” is used by rising athletes across sports who read his book on the subject. Bryant writes, “I liked challenging people and making them uncomfortable. That’s what leads to introspection and that’s what leads to improvement. You could say I dared people to be their best selves.” The star spoke three languages, including Italian, and built up a media empire. Bryant was also an Oscar winner thanks to a short animated film he produced. In the years prior to his death, he was most well known for his advocacy for women’s sports. He coached women’s teams and loved watching his daughters play basketball, following in his footsteps.
Artists are paying tribute to Kobe Bryant through digital work, murals, photography, and more.
One stunning tribute is a grass art portrait in a Pleasanton park in the Bay Area, which appeared just a few days after Bryant’s death and was created by artists Kelli Pearson and Pete Davis. Murals are popping up across the globe that celebrate the lives of Kobe and Gianna. So far, a total of 313 are recorded on this mural database.
On social media, artists paid tribute with collages, portraits, digital art, and other unique media. Some show Gianna and Kobe on a basketball court with angel halos. Others are simple line drawings that show the player grinning and smiling with his arm around his daughter. One unique piece made of liquid coffee shows Bryant leaping furiously on the court with his basketball, wings unfurling behind him. Many include quotes from his Mamba mentality book or his various philanthropic initiatives.
It’s clear that Bryant’s complicated legacy resonated with fans around the world. As they so often do, artists are helping give form to collective grief by honoring Bryant’s sportsmanship, charitable giving, and creativity on and off the court.