A California artist erected a statue of deceased basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his late daughter Gianna at the site of the horrific helicopter crash in Calabasas, where the father and daughter, along with seven others, were killed two years ago Wednesday.
The artist, Dan Medina, trekked up the hills above Calabasas before sunrise on Wednesday while pulling a rug that carried the 160-pound bronze sculpture and brought it to the crash site, he told Today.
He says he nearly gave up at one point when the carpet ripped but noted that he turned to Kobe for inspiration.
“I remembered exactly what he’d say: ‘push, finish…’ That’s why I chose him, and it’s something that I think needed to be done,” Medina told Today.
The monument depicts Kobe, a five-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion, donning his iconic Los Angeles Lakers uniform, with his arm around Gianna, better known as Gigi. The pair and seven others, including the pilot, were going to a youth basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Academy when the helicopter crashed in the Calabasas hills, Breitbart News previously reported.
Two years ago today, the world lost Kobe and Gianna Bryant 🙏 pic.twitter.com/7Fd12A7RQS
— ESPN (@espn) January 26, 2022
The base of the four-foot-tall statue lists the name of the nine individuals who suddenly lost their lives on January 26, 2020. Under their names, the monument reads: “Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.”
Medina told KTLA that while he is not a major sports enthusiast per se, he is “definitely a Kobe fan.”
“I think that he was bigger than the sport itself. He was an intellect, he was an amazing father, he was an inspiration to many,” he explained.
“This is probably one of the hardest celebrity or athlete deaths I’ve had to take in in my life, ever,” said Medina.
Today reports that Medina went back to the site later Wednesday and took the statue down to avoid breaking any laws.
Medina hopes to have a life-sized version of the statue placed permanently in downtown Los Angeles to memorialize Bryant, his daughter, and all of the crash victims, KTLA reports.
He told Today he has already sculpted the piece, which will stand 16-18 feet tall once put on a pedestal.