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Statue of Kobe Bryant and Daughter Gianna erected at crash site

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were memorialized with a bronze statue placed at the the crash site on the two-year anniversary of the helicopter collision that killed nine people.

The statue of the NBA hall of famer and proud father of four, with 13-year-old Gianna, was placed at the site of the tragic accident in a mountainous area of Calabasas in Los Angeles.

The sculptor, Dan Medina, inscribed, ‘Heroes come and go but legends are forever,’ and honored the other seven victims with their names on a plaque, at the base of the statue.

The piece depicts Kobe looking adoringly down at Gianna, who was just 13-years-old at the time of her passing, with his left arm on her shoulder.

She’s depicted carrying a basketball while looking up to her father, who in real life stood at 6ft6in.

Both father and daughter are wearing their respective basketball uniforms: Kobe in his Lakers No. 24 uniform, which was his second team number after wearing No. 8 in the first part of his career.


Medina lugged the sculpture to the crash site this morning, where it will only stay for the remainder of the day. However, he plans to continue to display it every anniversary of the tragedy – and on Bryant’s birthday – Medina told TMZ Sports.

Dozens paid their respects to the basketball legend and victims of the tragedy by placing flowers and memorabilia in front of the statue. Medina told TMZ Sports that he has been working on a life-size version of the same statue that is 90% complete and will stand at 6-foot and seven-inches.

‘I think we need something like this to be installed on a permanent basis. It hasn’t been done yet and this is maybe a catalyst for that,’ he said. ‘But I’m willing to donate whatever’s here at no cost. That’s the hope, to find a way to have it permanently installed.’

He said he visited the site recently to see an empty space with a ‘few rocks and dried flowers’ and ‘I thought they deserved more. Not just Kobe and Gigi, but all of the lives who were lost that day.’

Medina said that Bryant was much more than just a basketball player, explaining that he admired Bryant as an ‘intellect,’ a musician and a father.

‘Every book he read, he made a point to contact the author. He spoke many languages, he learned how to play the piano on his own,’ Medina said.

Kobe, who was 41 at the time of his death, and Gianna were flying from Orange County to a youth basketball tournament at his Mamba Sports Academy in Ventura County when the pilot encountered thick fog and slammed into a hillside on January 26, 2020.


The victims included Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri Altobelli, and their daughter Alyssa, who was Gianna’s teammate, Christina Mauser, who helped Kobe coach his daughter basketball team, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton, who was also a member of Gianna’s team, and pilot Ara Zobayan.

The anniversary of Bryant’s death was marked across social media and by his loved ones and fans. Lamar Odom, who played alongside Kobe from 2004-2011, received a tribute to Bryant from his manager Tonita B.

She gave Odom a diamond chain and pendant depicting Bryant kissing Gianna on the head, which is a recreation of a photo taken of the two sitting courtside at a Lakers game in 2019, TMZ reported.

The chain was designed by Scoobie Da Jeweler and is worth $17,000 and made of 25 carats of VS diamonds, according to the news outlet. The back of the pendant includes Bryant’s quote: “Rest at the end, not in the middle.”

“To understand that Kobe meant the world to me and have this made as a constant reminder for me to keep going has me at loss for words,’ Odom said of the gift.

It’s been two years… January 26, 2020,’ Medina wrote along the first photo of his statue he posted on his Instagram page on Wednesday.

He proceeded to share more photos and the names of all nine people who died that tragic day.

The artist ended by writing, ‘Rest In Peace…’ along with the hashtags: ‘#kobeandgigimonument #bronzemonument #kobebryant #escultura #lakers #medina_sculpture #artisanbronzefoundry’

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report last February that blamed the crash on cloudy weather and a series of poor decisions by the pilot, which included flying blindly into a wall of clouds that resulted in him thinking he was climbing when the craft was actually plunging.

“This year’s been a little easier. Each year has gotten a little bit less intense… you have your good moments and you have some rough patches,” Mauser’s husband Matthew told ABC 7 on Wednesday.

The crash also resulted in an ongoing lawsuit by Bryant’s widow Vanessa, with a trial scheduled to begin on February 22.

Vanessa claims in court filings that graphic photos showing Bryant and Gianna’s bodies, just hours after they were killed, were passed around by at least 28 police officers and at least a dozen firefighters in bars and at a media awards gala.

The claims were made in court documents filed by lawyers for Vanessa Bryant last Thursday ahead of a trial where she is seeking damages from Los Angeles County for invasion of privacy over the sharing of the graphic photos.

The photos were taken by police officers and firefighters at the site of the deadly helicopter crash in Calabasas.

Vanessa’s attorney Luis Li wrote that pretrial evidence, ‘has shown that the close-up photos of Gianna and Kobe’s remains were passed around on at least 28 sheriff’s department devices and by at least a dozen firefighters, and shown off in bars and at an awards gala’.

Li also alleged that Los Angeles County officials ‘engaged in a coverup, destroying the direct forensic evidence of their misconduct and requiring extensive circumstantial evidence to establish the full extent of that misconduct.’

Los Angeles County has previously defended itself by saying that the photos were not posted online or seen by the public aside from in a bar two days after the crash. In that incident, a bartender told a patron that an officer had just shown him the photos. That patron laid a complaint with the LA County Sheriff’s office.

In the new documents filed, Vanessa’s attorney states that a private citizen attending the 2020 Golden Mike Awards – a broadcast television awards night held less than a month after the crash – witnessed LA County Fire Department Public Information Officer Tony Imbrenda talking about the photos and showing them to others. It’s not clear who he showed the photos to.

Officials later said the photos were deleted, and the witness did not see the photos for herself.

The new documents also reveal details that the photos were shown in at least two bars in the days following the crash. A bartender in Norwalk, California stated a Los Angeles police officer showed him the photos at the bar.

A bartender in Bellflower, California, stated they spoke to a patron who relayed graphic details after observing photos of the victims’ remains from a friend in law enforcement who had been stationed at the crash scene to provide security and keep coyotes away from the bodies.

Los Angeles County has said that that they have a witness who will testify in next month’s trial that it is a well-known practice with law enforcement in Southern California to share photos of human remains.

The county tried to get Bryant’s lawsuit thrown out, but earlier this month, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter rejected the motion and determined that ‘there are genuine issues of material fact for trial.’

The case is expected to last about 15 days and will include 40 witnesses for Bryant, according to court documents.

Original story on Daily Mail

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