Show caption The 73kg sculpture by artist Dan Medina. The crash occurred early in the morning on 26 January 2020, amid foggy weather. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images Los Angeles Statue of Kobe Bryant and daughter unveiled at site of fatal helicopter crash NBA legend and daughter Gigi died in hillside crash in 2020
Pedestal shows names of nine victims in fatal incident Guardian staff and agencies Thu 27 Jan 2022 15.32 GMT Share on Facebook
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A sculpture of the NBA great Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant was brought on Wednesday to the helicopter crash site where they died alongside seven others on a hillside near Los Angeles two years ago.
The 160lb (73kg) bronze statue depicts Gigi holding Kobe’s hand as it rests on her shoulder. Both are wearing basketball uniforms.
Engraved on the statue’s steel pedestal are the names of all nine victims of the crash, which occurred early in the morning on 26 January 2020, amid foggy weather. It also includes an inscription of Bryant’s famous quote: “Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.”
Sculptor Dan Medina said he hoped the statue could help Bryant’s many fans. “On this day, the second anniversary of the accident, I decided to bring it up from sunrise to sunset and create a bit of a healing process for fans,” he said. “Today was special because I witnessed a lot of that. People would come up and they would leave with some sort of satisfaction.”
A five-time NBA champion in his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant’s death at age 41 shocked the world of professional sports and sent his legions of fans into mourning.
Bryant, who lived in the area for most of his life often used helicopters to beat Los Angeles’s heavy traffic, and on the day of the crash was taking Gianna to play in a basketball game at his academy outside the city. His daughter was 13 at the time of the crash.
Nicole Szuch-Dinets of Woodland Hills was one of the dozens of fans who made the trip to pay their respects.
“I remember when this happened. We live close and we could hear the helicopter,” she said. “And then it popped up on my phone and we didn’t believe it. So I wanted to come out of respect and I thought this statue is beautiful.”
Tributes to Bryant by his friends, fans and former teammates poured out on social media on Wednesday.
“I know many of you are out there and you miss him and still wish to see his brilliance on the court, and what he was doing as a dad,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said of Bryant. “It was wonderful the way he was coaching girls and getting them into the game. I hope all of you out there remember him the way you should and give your prayers to his wife and family.”