CALABASAS, California (KTLA) – Two years after the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and eight other people, a statue of the basketball star and his 13-year-old daughter was erected at the Calabasas crash site.
Fans gathered there Wednesday to pay their respects on the anniversary of the tragic event, leaving flowers and notes by the statue.
The 4-foot-tall monument, sculpted by artist Dan Medina, features Bryant in his Lakers jersey with his arm around Gianna, who is also in a basketball uniform holding a ball. Gianna, who went by Gigi, was also killed in the 2020 crash.
Medina told KTLA that he isn’t necessarily a sports fan, but 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 said.
He added that he hiked to the site and installed the sculpture just for the anniversary date, but that he hopes to have a life-sized version of the statue displayed permanently in downtown Los Angeles so people can honor all the victims.
David Cataldo, who donned a Lakers jersey and championship cap, wanted to visit the statue Wednesday to pay his respects.
Cataldo said he thought it was a “hoax” when he heard about the news of the crash two years ago.
“This is probably one of the hardest celebrity or athlete deaths I’ve had to take in in my life, ever,” he told Nexstar’s KTLA.
Another fan, Edgar Alzate, called the statue a beautiful tribute, and summed it up as the “ultimate respect to a legend.”