Video game company saves iconic Kobe and Gianna Bryant memorial mural from being destroyed
When Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died tragically in January 2020, the world lost not only one of the most revered basketball players in history but someone who had become a true icon of his adopted hometown of Los Angeles.
Public transit buses around the city paid tribute to Bryant and his family and everyone from former teammates to average citizens shared in a public grieving process. Part of that process was aided by a truly memorable piece of artwork created by Louie Palsino, known professionally as Sloe Motions, on the wall of local gym Hardcore Fitness in downtown Los Angeles.
The mural shows Bryant with his arm around his daughter Gianna, both bearing angelic wings and a glowing aura behind them as they hover above the clouds. For the past three years, the mural has taken on international acclaim and become a regular stop for fans around the world, just a short stop from Crypto Arena, where the Lakers play their home games.
However, when it was revealed that the mural was set to be taken down and replaced with advertising, fans assumed a critical tribute to the late Bryant father and daughter would be lost forever, adding an extra sting to the loss of one of LA’s most important figures.
When hope for saving the mural seemed lost, video game company 2K Games stepped in to take action. 2K is one of the most successful gaming enterprises in the world, and perhaps most famous to millions of gaming and basketball fans for their NBA2K series of games. 2K’s Digital Marketing Director Ronnie Singh, aka Ronnie 2K to his millions of fans across social media, knew something had to be done.
“It’s about using your platform to do good,” Singh told Upworthy in an interview.
First, 2K spotlighted a Change.org petition to raise awareness, gathering more than 91,000 signatures from people who wanted to preserve the mural. And then Ronnie and 2K engaged in direct talks with the owner of Hardcore Fitness about how they might find a way to keep the mural in place. Eventually, 2K made an agreement with Hardcore Fitness owner for an undisclosed amount to keep the mural in place for at least one more year.
“It’s not a mural about a random thing,” Singh said. “It means a lot to a lot of people. His legacy continues on and it’s powerful to see people show up and support this.”
During a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the mural, Ronnie 2K explained that the decision was part of his philosophy of putting action before words. It was an especially personal move for Singh, as Kobe Bryant is this year’s cover athlete for NBA2K.
While mostly known for his active social media presence and involvement with the gaming world, Singh has been actively directing 2K’s charitable work through its 2K Foundations, which has been engaging in various acts of giving back in the United States and around the globe. Even within the game itself, 2K engaged directly with its player base back in 2020 to help fans through the grieving process after Bryant’s death.
While the mural is technically only preserved for one year, Singh says he hopes the move will help inspire fans and other businesses to find a long-term solution to saving the iconic artwork. “Hopefully this will be an inspiration for people to jump in,” Sing said. “It’s about action over words.”
Even for non-basketball fans, it’s a powerful message about honoring art over commerce and paying tribute to a legendary figure whose memory is still a powerful part of millions of people’s lives. Bryant himself had moved directly into the creative world in the years before his passing, producing the 2017 animated short film “Dear Basketball” which won an Oscar that year.
As dozens of fans gathered around the mural on a Thursday afternoon, the shared joy over its preservation was obvious. Even though Bryant is no longer with us as a person, the sense of community shared in a beautiful piece of artwork created to honor the legacy of him and daughter Gianna is one that brings people together with a positive message.
Bryant was always vocal about his personal dedication to putting in hard work and getting things done. And with their gesture, Ronnie Singh and 2K set in motion an act of service that will hopefully grow to other organizations and inspire Bryant’s fans around the world to stay active in their communities on and off the court. Kobe Bryant’s legacy as a basketball player will be with us forever. And by preserving the mural dedicated to his memory, it’s a wonderful step toward making the legacy be one about action, community and giving back.
Link: Read More