When Kobe and Gianna Bryant passed on January 26, 2020, the city of Los Angeles and the basketball world at large mourned the tragedy. Within days, hundreds of Kobe Murals were created across the world to pay homage to the Lakers legend and his daughter. A site was even created called KobeMural.com which tracked where all murals were located worldwide and currently has over 600 locations documented.
One mural displayed on the outside wall of Hardcore Fitness, blocks away from Crypto.com Arena, garnered a lot of attention due to its size and beauty. Los Angeles-based artists Sloe Motions painted the mural in January 2020, shortly after Kobe and Gianna’s passing, but the landlord of the building was set to take it down to make space for advertisers.
The community was determined to save it.
A petition was created on Change.org that received over 90,000 signatures and got a stamp of approval from Vanessa Bryant, who posted it on Instagram.
The response this petition received caught the attention of 2K, the video game company that creates the popular NBA2K series, and they decided to step in.
The company agreed to a one-year extension with the landlord to ensure the mural stays up. They could not disclose the financials on how much it costs to keep the mural intact, but Head of Lifestyle & Content Marketing at 2K Ronnie Singh — aka Ronnie 2K — called it a “philanthropic donation to the landlord.”
Ronnie 2K discussed why a video game company stepped in to save a real-life mural.
“We needed to make an impact. We need to step in and have the responsibility to do good,” Ronnie said. “Video games are really like the unifying figure and we felt a moral responsibility to jump in and say, ‘We want to make a difference.’ Not words, but actions and that was it.
“The petition was really amazing. It got so many signatures. A lot of people put it out. We put it out. I talked about it in the press a bunch of times. It didn’t make the impact that we wanted it to, so then we acted and we got involved and we made it happen.”
So what happens after a year? Will it be gone after that? Will 2K renew their current agreement or reach out to the landlord to extend it?
“We’re hoping that we’re inspiring others to take it on,” Ronnie said. “Otherwise, we will reconsider after a year as well.”
The saving of this mural is a testament to what can happen when a community galvanizes together and takes action. And while it now lives at its physical location at Hardcore Fitness, it may soon live inside of NBA 2K.
“I would love to do that,” Ronnie said with a grin. “We obviously have to work with the artists and we’ve had conversations about doing that. I think it makes a lot of sense. We have an alternative Kobe tribute in the game right now.
“But now, seeing this real-world thing, how we connected to it, it’s definitely something we would love to do.”
Kobe and Gianna may be gone, but they’ll never be forgotten and murals like the one at Harcore Fitness help their memory and legacy live on.
If you are ever in Los Angeles, you won’t go far before seeing a mural honoring the two. Some are big, others are small, but all are beautiful and demonstrate the impact their lives had in the City of Angels.
And thanks to 2K, one of the most iconic murals honoring the daughter and father is preserved.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.