Advertisement
California

Kobe Bryant mural becomes a shrine to fans mourning his death

kobe
A man in a Lakers jersey pays tribute to Kobe Bryant at the Shoe Palace mural in Los Angeles.
(Britny Mejia / Los Angeles Times)

Dozens of people stopped to stare up at a mural of Kobe Bryant on the side of the Shoe Palace on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.

On the side of the mural were the words “on 4.13 Kobe played his final game ... this tribute has 413 triangles.”

Since the news broke, visitors papered the purple wall with yellow post it notes that read, “Kobe you were king of LA and legend of basketball R.I.P. bro,” “thx Kobe for everything you are LA,” and “thank you mamba for showing us what it means to be a champion.”

Daryl Vaskerville added a single red rose and three candles to the growing memorial for Bryant. There was a bouquet of flowers, black and gold Nike shoes and people growing emotional in Bryant jerseys.

Advertisement

“He described in depth what it meant to be a champion,” Vaskerville said

They came decked out in Lakers jackets, purple beanies and Lakers purple and gold pajama bottoms.

Angelenos lay flowers at the mural of Kobe Bryant, mouth open wide and a basketball in his left hand, and lit candles that flickered in the breeze. One of the candles had a gold “8” on it.

A Shoe Palace employee handed out Post-it notes and pens for people to fill out and stick to the wall.

Advertisement

Someone filled a Nike shoe with flowers.

Jaxon Brown, 17, left a pair of gold and black Nikes he always has worn for volleyball practice.

“I wanted to leave them here in honor of him,” he said. “Kobe was like my hero growing up.”

Many people snapped photos either in front of the mural or from across the street, where some sat along the curb, their faces in their hands as they watched the crowd continue to grow.

They traveled from Sherman Oaks, or decided to use their 15-minute work break to walk over to the mural and pay their respects.

“Greatest Laker ever,” someone shouted out.

“It don’t seem real,” said Shon Benjamin, who grew up in Inglewood. “That’s our Michael Jordan. There’s many memories of him in my living room and his jersey on my body,” he said. “He was the hero of L.A.”

“Michael Jordan made it a business, Kobe made it a passion.”

Advertisement

The 44-year-old heard the news from his co-workers and thought it was fake. He left work on his work break to come to the mural.

“Everybody is taking their break to come over here,” he said.

His 21-year-old son, he said, was at home “in tears, in a puddle.”

“That’s his hero, his favorite player of all time,” he said.

Those gathered spoke in English, Spanish and a range of languages. Benjamin gestured around the dozens standing beside him.

“Look around you, look at all the different people, the different walks of life that he influenced,” Benjamin said.

“Man, man,” he said, his voice trailing off.

“Black Mamba forever,” Benjamin said as he stared up at the mural.

Advertisement

Vaskerville said he came to pay his respects.

“I’ve been watching him since Season 1, one of my favorite players,” he said. Vakserville heard about the mural and decided to join the throng of visitors.

He predicted that many more murals would spring up.

“I’m pretty sure there’ll be more,” he said.

“This is not a small situation, this is a very big deal.”


Newsletter
The stories shaping California

Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Advertisement