Local artists paint mural to honor Kobe Bryant and Nipsey Hussle

Local artists Arthur Akopyan and Haibert Sarkissian created a mural recently outside Akopyan’s barbershop at 174 W. Verdugo Ave., commemorating the late Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, as well as rapper Nipsey Hussle.
(Raul Roa/Burbank Leader)

People are coping with the sudden death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in different ways.

Some created makeshift memorials outside Staples Center, while others, like local artists Arthur Akopyan and Haibert Sarkissian, expressed themselves about the recent losses of life through art.

On one of the walls outside Akopyan’s barbershop at 174 W. Verdugo Ave. in Burbank is a mural that Akopyan and Sarkissian painted of the late Los Angeles Lakers legend, his daughter and Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle — three people who lost their lives unexpectedly.

Bryant, his daughter and seven other people died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 as they were on their way to Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks.


Hussle was shot multiple times in broad daylight outside his store in South Los Angeles on March 31 of last year.

The mural depicts portraits of Bryant, his daughter and Hussle in swirls of blues, reds, purple and gold.

Akopyan said he didn’t watch much basketball growing up, but when he did, he watched the Lakers, and he always admired Bryant’s work ethic and drive.

“I remember watching that game when he tore his Achilles, and he went back into the game to shoot free throws,” Akopyan said.


“That’s the type of thing that gets implanted into your brain, and you remain inspired by that forever. That was his Mamba mentality,” he added.

On the other hand, Sarkissian said he didn’t watch basketball or follow the Lakers growing up, nor did he listen to Hussle’s music, but he was inspired to pay tribute to Bryant, his daughter and Hussle because of the profound impact each of them had on other people.

“Everybody that I talked to after the passing of these of people told me how much joy, happiness, motivation and hope they all brought to them,” Sarkissian said.

“It made me respect them through their actions,” he added.

Sarkissian added that it was more relief than surprise when he saw Southern California and the world paying tribute to Bryant, a figure who most people have only seen on their television screens.

“It was nice knowing that people still care for one another,” he said.

Akopyan said painting the mural with Sarkissian helped him cope with the loss of Bryant and the others who were with him.

It made him come to the sobering realization that life is temporary, but it also gave him the drive to live life to its fullest and purest — to be selfless and better others.


“I bet you Kobe didn’t do what he did so that people would talk about him,” Akopyan said. “He wanted to serve as an example for others.”

Sarkissian concurred with Akopyan, adding that life is too short to hold grudges against family members and friends. He suggested that everyone should take the time to bury any hatchets and to start fresh.

“You need to let all that stuff go and talk through it with that another person because when they’re gone, they’re gone forever, but that feeling of regret will always be there,” Sarkissian said.

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