Memorial mural for Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna goes up near UT
Flowers and candles are starting to line a new mural just north of the University of Texas.
A wall behind the Sushi Hi restaurant, 2912 Guadalupe St., now depicts basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who both died in a helicopter crash Sunday in California. The mural — prominently featuring purple and yellow, signature Los Angeles Lakers colors associated with Bryant — was completed Wednesday. The wall also features the words “Black Mamba,” Bryant’s nickname.
On Thursday, fans were already taking photos of the mural, painted by artists Josue Rivera (aka Laced and Found) and Felix Jaimes (aka Snuk One), and sharing them on social media to remember the Bryants.
The artists reached out to Sushi Hi’s owners about painting the mural. The six-hour turnaround began Tuesday. Rivera chose the spot because it was a prominent location in Central Austin. He completed the portrait of Bryant and his daughter with help from artist Riki Loring. Jaimes was responsible for the lettering.
Rivera posted a photo of the mural to his Instagram account with a caption that read: “For Kobe's fans in Austin, for those who loved him, looked up to him, were inspired by him, for those who made mistakes and did everything in their power to show others that they are more than their mistakes, for those who didn't know anything about him but respected his legacy and him as a human. This is for all those lost in that tragic accident. This dedication wouldn't be complete without his daughter.”
Both artists said Kobe and Gianna’s deaths affected people greatly.
“It’s very important to me and my family. We had to come out here and pay our respects in the way that means the most to us,” Jaimes said.
Jaimes and Rivera have been taken aback by the response since they started the mural. During their production process, they said, many people approached them to ask what they were working on. As people visited the mural Thursday, they snapped photos of the artists with their work.
“You don’t even have to follow basketball to know who Kobe Bryant was and the impact he had on the sport and his fans,” Rivera said. “It was without a question we had to do this.”
Rivera and Jaimes often collaborate on art that’s featured on the back wall of Sushi Hi. Since the restaurant opened two years ago, they have completed a few murals there.
When the artists contacted Sushi Hi with the idea for the Bryant mural, manager Chris McNerney, son of Sushi Hi’s owner, was more than happy to agree. He said that the restaurant didn’t want to take credit for the mural and that they let the artists do “whatever” they wanted.
“It turned out to be an amazing piece for an amazing person,” McNerney said.
Austin native Debra Sustaita, 50, follows the Austin art scene and had to stop by when she saw the mural in her Facebook feed. She took a selfie with the artists and the mural.
Bryant’s death “made you aware of the impact one person can do for a nation and his community,” Sustaita said. The mural, she thinks, “turned out really good. I love the colors, and it captured his face in a ‘What am I going to do next for my team and community’ (expression).”
The artists intend to leave the mural up for the foreseeable future.
“We did it for the city of Austin,” Rivera said. “We wanted to give everyone a place to honor the legend that Kobe Bryant was.”