Posts Tagged ‘Street Art’

Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.
– Kobe Bryant

Kobe & Gianna celebrate the Lakers’ 2009 championship (Use the slider to compare photo & mural)

On January 26, 2020, a helicopter carrying NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, CA, killing everyone aboard. The tragic news sent my hometown of Los Angeles reeling and left the world at large in a state of denial and disbelief. A year later, the shock of Kobe’s sudden passing at age 41 still feels all too surreal at a time when surreal has quickly become the norm.

Individuals across the globe paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna in the traumatic aftermath of their death; as a lifelong basketball (albeit Boston Celtics) fan, I did so myself here on the blog. Among the most visible and heartfelt of all the Kobe tributes, though, have been those we see while driving around Los Angeles, where Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers and where he became the only player in NBA history to have two jersey numbers (8 and 24) retired by the same team.

On walls across LA and surrounding cities, creative and colorful murals celebrating Bryant’s life and career have sprung up like flowers in the spring. After noticing one or two of these murals downtown during Los Angeles Marathon weekend last March, and as a huge fan of urban street art, I made it my mission to visit as many as possible. Which, as it turns out, is no insignificant undertaking. Because despite my own personal PTSD and my keen awareness that Kobe was SoCal’s favorite son and a global icon, still I underestimated the collective emotional impact of his death.

According to (the definitive online guide to Kobe Bryant murals), there are currently 325 tribute murals in the U.S.—247 in Southern California alone—plus 112 others in 30+ countries. This number is constantly changing as new murals are added and old murals are replaced. Many of these are located on busy streets like Hollywood Blvd, Melrose Ave and Pico Blvd, and if there has been a silver lining to the past ten months, it’s the opportunity this pandemic has afforded us to appreciate these murals sans LA’s notorious traffic. Many of the murals, like Kobe’s legacy, are (much) larger than life, and I’ve taken more than a few photos now while standing in the middle lanes of a normally bustling thoroughfare—the kind of move that, under normal circumstances, would swiftly remove me from the gene pool.

Given Kobe’s unique combination of single-minded focus, professional success, global popularity, and two-decade tenure with Hollywood’s team, it’s difficult to imagine another pro athlete whose untimely death would inspire such a heartfelt outpouring of grief, love and reverence. As @banditgraffiti (one of the artists featured below) notes, “In my years being in Los Angeles, I’ve never witnessed so much unity and respect from the community.” Granted I’ve only lived here for eight years, but I’d have to agree.

Here I share my personal top 50 Kobe Bryant tribute murals from the nearly 120 we’ve visited to date; click on any mural to view a higher-resolution image. I’d recommend to see hundreds more—some wildly impressive—from around the world. These murals celebrate not only Kobe, Gigi and the seven others aboard that helicopter who left us too soon, but likewise the incredibly talented artists and luminaries who live and work here in the City of Angels. They’re all shining examples of why Los Angeles is the most creative city in the world and why I love LA.

Kobe Bryant may be gone… but long live Kobe Bryant.

(Got a favorite mural of your own? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!)

Murals of Kobe Alone

This group of murals focuses the spotlight on the man himself.

A tribute to Kobe’s otherworldly talent as 5x NBA champion and Oscar-winning producer
100 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @leviponce

The Japanese characters beneath “Little Tokyo” translate to “Los Angeles,” and the five purple flowers around Kobe’s head represent his five NBA titles
236 S Los Angeles St (inside), Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @sloe_motions

Kobe’s metamorphosis from High School All-American to 2x U.S. Olympic gold medalist to NBA Hall of Famer
408 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA
Artist: @gz.jr

Kobe celebrates one of his five NBA championships near the border of Beverly Hills
470 N Doheny Dr, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @bournrich

Kobe scored 60 points in his final NBA game, then concluded his farewell speech with “Mamba out”
490 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA
Artist: @jgoldcrown

An iconic pose reproduced on several Kobe tribute murals
501 W Arbor Vitae St, Inglewood, CA
Artist: @jacrispy_signcompany

This lifelike masterpiece celebrates Kobe’s fifth and final NBA championship in 2010
Grand Central Market, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @never1959

A pensive 18-time NBA All-Star watches over East LA
1060 N Fickett St, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @velaart

I can’t hear you, Los Angeles!
1626 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @artchemists

The man, the Mamba, and five championship rings
2200 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @velaart

Kobe and his five Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophies
2429 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @sloe_motions

Sometimes the simplest statements say the most
2615 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA
Artist: @the_rev_carl

Kobe shows off his championship ring (Note the “Mambacita 2” tribute to Gianna in starry-sky styling)
5220 Valley Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @melanymd

“Forever Kobe” turns heads in Mid-City
5414 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @toonsone44

“Mamba Forever”: Kobe basks in the spotlight of his fifth and final NBA championship in 2010
6454 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA
Artist: @banditgraffiti

Look closely: An iconic above-the-rim moment immortalized in 413 triangles
7725 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA

One of many amazing Kobe tributes from @gz.jr, the man was 🔥 in 2020
7753 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @gz.jr

Located outside Black-owned Sorella Boutique, this mural remained untouched during the protests that followed George Floyd’s death
7829 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @paintedprophet

LAgends Never Die”
8495 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA
Artist: @muckrock

This mural evokes Michael Jordan’s iconic Nike “Wings” photo, with an infinity symbol in place of Kobe’s #8
11705 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA
Artist: @gabegault

Another photorealistic creation from Jonas Never, located near Staples Center
1336 Lebanon St, Los Angeles, CA (across from LA Convention Center)
Artist: @never1959

Murals of Kobe & Gianna

These murals celebrate Kobe as #GirlDad with daughter Gigi, who was herself an up-and-coming baller.

Guardians of the City of Angels
400 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @sloe_motions

A tribute so nice, we had to visit it twice
1251 South La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @mrbrainwash

“Heart of a Legend” on Watts Civic Center (Note the distinctive Watts Towers, shown in the top half)
Watts Civic Center (1501 E 103rd St), Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @pequebrown

In memory of Kobe, Gianna and the seven other victims, Orange County
512 W 19th St, Costa Mesa, CA
Artist: @andaluztheartist

“The Mamba Mentality Lives On”
519 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @hijackart

Kobe & Gigi sport a version of the “Back 2 Back” jacket he wore (in his pre-Mamba days) after consecutive championships in 2000 and 2001
614 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @gabegault

“Legends Are Forever”
800 E 4th Pl, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @royyaldog

Moving Heaven and Earth
1053 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @enkone

The mandala adds a spiritual dimension to this “Mamba out” mural
1348 Flower St, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @aiseborn

Kobe Bryant, forever a #GirlDad
1361 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @sloe_motions, @sensaegram

Lost Angels” in Los Angeles
1430 East Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @samhue_91, @samcamsigns, @seandiaz_tattoo

The rim-as-halo effect makes this mural
1602 Cherry Ave, Long Beach, CA
Artist: @dannyssignslbc

“City of Angels” (though that wing hugging Gigi’s right shoulder is off-putting)
2450 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @artoon_art

The heart of a champion runs in the family
1921 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @alex_ali_gonzalez

My personal favorite #GirlDad mural, despite a tiny “oops”: the year on Kobe’s towel mistakenly ends in “0,” though the scene shows the two celebrating the Lakers’ 2009 championship
2471 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @downtowndaniel

The silhouette of Kobe (24) & Gigi (2) in their jerseys with backs to the viewer is a common theme
3515 Wilshire Blvd (Koreatown), Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @muckrock

“Rest at the End, Not in the Middle,” a collaboration of three artists
3601 W Garry Ave, Santa Ana, CA
Artists: @mikalataylormade, @tonycncp, @xistheweapon

“You asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart”
5325 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @

It’s all here: Kobe’s championship mindset, Kobe & Gigi silhouetted with halos, plus the Black Mamba
5745 Tujunga Ave, North Hollywood, CA
Artist: @nessie_blaze

Note the purple-&-gold outpouring of love & respect from bereaved fans
7753 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @banditgraffiti

“The Dreamer & The Believer”
7751 1/2 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @paintedprophet

Looking to the heavens one last time
11459 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA
Artist: @artoon_art

Murals of Kobe & Others

These murals includes familiar faces such as fellow NBA greats as well as rapper, activist and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle, a fellow Angeleno who was gunned down in South-Central LA in March 2019.

“Bend the Knee” may be my favorite Kobe tribute mural with its portrayal of former teammates and rivals, complemented by the Black Mamba at bottom
5873 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @gz.jr

Kobe vs. Michael, a rivalry in triangles… and don’t miss this cool effect
1803 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Trading places: The legendary Vin Scully as Laker, Kobe as Dodger (unfinished)
1124 S Atlantic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @sloe_motions

“Leave a Legacy” celebrates the Lakers’ 2020 title, their 17th; Kobe sits atop the mural with trophy in lap
5522 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @gz.jr, @flaxworx

Kobe and Nipsey Hussle look out on Obama Blvd in South-Central LA
5791 Obama Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @jayo_v, @justcreatedit

Lakers legends past & present: Kobe dishes to LeBron on Hollywood Blvd
6544 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @artoon_art

Mamba out: Passing the torch on a championship tradition
10864 La Grange Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Artist: @gz.jr, @flaxworx