Dozens of people flocked to the site where a new Kobe Bryant mural was unveiled Thursday morning.
The mural on the side of the Watts Civic Center honors the late Lakers shooting guard and had the words “Heart of a Legend” written in the center. On the side of it, against the black background, is one of his most famous quotes from the late Lakers great, which reads, “Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.” Just below the quote are the receding figures of Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with the silhouette of downtown Los Angeles, where he spent his entire professional career and won five championships. On the right end of the mural, the artist writes down the names of the nine victims of the helicopter crash with the title “In Loving Memory.”
Throughout Los Angeles, people mourn the loss of the 41-year-old NBA legend and his daughter, who died along with seven others Jan. 26, after their helicopter crashed into the hills near Calabasas and burst into flames. The two were on their way to Gianna’s basketball practice at Bryant’s Mamba Academy.
In Watts, the reaction has been no different.
“I think this means everything for the community of Watts,” said PeQue Brown, the mural’s artist. “We take Kobe as our own, someone we see growing up, maturing and becoming great.”
“Moreover, Watts is a great community. People here are truly hard workers who persevere; and Kobe’s quote, ‘no excuses’ means everything to our Watts residents.”
As 9:30 a.m. hit, people arrived, gradually encircling the place in time for the reveal. One of the attendees was Frankie Becerra, who wore Kobe's jersey. He stood and stared at the mural steadfastly for more than half an hour since he arrived at the site.
“It broke my heart,” Becerra said. “I got so emotional since it happened. He is a good guy on and off the court. He has always been supportive, respectful and giving whatever he can.”
Major Brunton showed up alone and arrived early to the unveiling, donning a pair of Kobe signature sneakers.
“It really hits home for people born and raised in Los Angeles like me,” Brunton said. “I am still struggling with what happened. The saddest part of the accident is that he had just retired for a few years. When he finally had the time to spend with his kids and family, he was gone.”
In the opening ceremony, Brown told the crowd, “This is not about me, it is about the Watts community. Everyone else will be going downtown to celebrate the legacy of Mamba, but how about people from Watts? We deserve a place where we can go and celebrate the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant as well, who is not only a basketball player but a man who gave his life trying to make people better.”