The city of Los Angeles grieved the death of iconic Lakers legend Kobe Bryant on Monday, with murals and vigils popping up all around town.
Art Gozukuchikyan, whose artist name is Artoon, decided to let Bryant be his muse as he painted a mural of the late NBA star and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who also died in the helicopter crash along with seven others. Gozukuchikyan began painting on the side of VEM Exotic Rentals located at 11467 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City just hours after news of the crash broke out and he continued to paint all through the night.
“I didn’t believe it… It almost hits you in a way of a depression,” he said. “I got motivated and I’m like, I’m painting him.”
The exotic car rental company had hired Gozukuchikyan to paint artwork on the outside of the building. He had finished up the side wall and was debating what to paint on the front wall for the past week, he said.
“When this happened, I’m like Oh, my God… I usually try to let natural causes pick my art and this was just perfect time,” he said. “I had to show love.”
This is Gozukuchikyan’s fourth mural of Kobe.
“He’s huge for this city. He is L.A.,” Gozukuchikyan said. “If there’s anyone that represents L.A., that’s Kobe. We love him. We’re all pretty sad.”
Gozukuchikyan was initially only painting an image of Bryant but when he found out Gianna had died too, he decided he had to incorporate her in the piece.
“There is no way I could’ve left her out,” he said. “Kobe is a legend. People are devastated. But losing his child too, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”
People have been stopping by the mural to watch Gozukuchikyan paint and to grieve. One woman started crying as she looked at the mural, the artist said.
“I’m a big believer of energy… That’s the whole point. I’m doing it for the people, as something for the people to vibe to, something for people to reminisce,” he said.
Fans also gathered at a mural of Bryant on Melrose Avenue in Fairfax, painted to commemorate his 2016 retirement. It became a makeshift shrine as fans gathered in Lakers gear and placed purple and gold flowers along with candles at the bottom of the mural.
Visitors stuck yellow Post-it notes on the purple wall with messages thanking and mourning Bryant.
One fan placed a sign with a quote from Bryant against the wall that read, “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”
Graffiti artist Jules Muck also spray-painted a portrait of the father and daughter duo after news of their deaths broke, hers by a market in Mid-City on Pickford Street and Washington Boulevard.
“I was really upset while I was painting, fighting back tears especially the ‘Daddy’s Girl Banner,’” Muck told the L.A. Daily News. “It just meant a lot to me.”
Vigils were underway throughout the city as well, with fans gathering at L.A. Live, Mamba Sports Academy and other locations throughout the day. Several city landmarks also lit up in Lakers’ purple and gold to honor Bryant’s legacy.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti requested all city flags to fly at half-staff on Monday, as local fans mourned the death of the basketball legend.
“What a sad day. It doesn’t feel like L.A. without Kobe in it,” the mayor told KTLA on Monday morning.
— KTLA (@KTLA) January 27, 2020