Kobe Bryant statue erected at crash site on anniversary of death

Sculptor Dan Medina creates a 160-pound bronze statue and deposits it at the location of the crash in Calabasas, California.

A statue of Kobe and Gigi Bryant along in Calabasas, California, on Wednesday.   -  REUTERS

Wednesday marked two years to the day since a helicopter crash took the lives of former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others. One sculptor took it upon himself to build a statue of the Bryants to honour their memory and the memory of the others who died.

California sculptor Dan Medina created a 160-pound bronze statue and deposited it at the location of the crash in Calabasas, California, early on Wednesday morning. The artist stressed that the installation was temporary, with hopes he can build a more permanent version of the statue at that same site with city permission.

The current version featured Kobe Bryant in full uniform with his arm around the younger Gianna, who is holding a basketball. The names of all crash victims adorn the base.

The crash that took the lives of nine people was eventually blamed on pilot error last February. Per the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot, Ara Zobayan, likely became disoriented while flying in cloudy conditions.

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The January 26, 2020, accident eventually spawned a lawsuit from the families of the deceased against the estate of the pilot and Island Express Helicopters,which was settled in June 2021.

Kobe Bryant was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in May 2021 as part of the 2020 class, with his widow Vanessa Bryant delivering remarks.

“You did it, you’re in the Hall of Fame now,” Vanessa Bryant said. “You’re a true champ. You’re not just an MVP, you are an all-time great. I’m so proud ofyou. I love you forever and always, Kobe Bean Bryant.”

Vanessa Bryant was among several people offering online tributes to the late star in recent days leading up to the anniversary of his death. Former team-mate Lamar Odom, former NBA player Vince Carter and current NFL player Russell Wilson were some of the others.

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