On Wednesday, as part of “Mamba Day,” an annual celebration in Los Angeles honoring the life and career of the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, a massive mural was unveiled, and the Santa Monica Pier’s Ferris wheel got illuminated in purple and gold. Bryant went by the nickname “Black Mamba,” and the people of Los Angeles celebrate Mamba Day in his remembrance every August 24, or 8/24, which refers to his uniform numbers 8 and 24, which he wore during his 20-year Hall of Fame career.
Bryant became the first NBA player to have both of his numbers retired by the same team. He passed away in a frightful helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people. He would have turned 44 this Tuesday. Meanwhile, his widow, Vanessa, wrote on Instagram, “Happy birthday, baby! I love you and miss you so much! #44 (heart).”
A massive outdoor mural, measuring 125 feet by 32 feet, was unveiled on Wednesday at 10 AM, created by the muralist Odeith and the L.A.-based illustrator Nikkolas Smith. The artists said that it is the largest portrait of Bryant ever painted in the city, which covers a whole side of the building. The mural shows a close-up of Bryant’s face in black and white in the center, with a mamba snake on the left and several kids, including Gianna, playing basketball on top of a book in color.
The book is called Epoca and was written by Bryant through his company, Granity Studios. Meanwhile, according to a spokesman for the artists, the mural is intended to showcase Bryant’s fiercely competitive nature and his more compassionate side.
“Kobe Bryant created stories for children that featured Black and Brown characters, so he inspired kids in ways that went even beyond what he did on the basketball court,” Smith told the media.
“It was an honor to make this mural, a dedication to Kobe and his creative and athletic genius.”
The 90-foot-tall Ferris wheel at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier has been illuminated with the numbers 8 and 24 as well as the Lakers’ gold and purple colors in a variety of patterns and transitions starting at sunset on Wednesday.
Bryant spent his entire playing career with the Lakers, where he set numerous team records and became the all-time leader in games (1,346), minutes played (48,637), field goals (11,719), and 3-pointers (1,827). Moreover, Bryant had participated in 18 All-Star Games and helped the Lakers win five NBA championships.