The mural can’t be missed.
It depicts Lakers legend Kobe Bryant with his arm around teenage daughter Gianna — two of the nine people who died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, 2020 — with angel wings and halo-like glows around their heads.
It’s larger than life, encompassing an entire wall on the side of Hardcore Fitness at 400 W. Pico Blvd., just blocks from Crypto.com Arena, the home court of the Lakers.
“It’s a piece of art that is honoring an iconic person,” the gym’s owner, Cecilia Moran, told The Times in a phone interview Friday.
But soon it might be gone. Moran said she was informed Wednesday by her landlord that the mural needs to be removed by the end of the month to make way for advertising.
Moran told him she would not do it.
“I said I don’t believe it’s right,” said Moran, who told The Times she has since received written notice from her landlord that he would have the mural removed and send her the bill if she doesn’t take it down herself. “That mural also benefits advertising and has a lot of meaning to the city and to Kobe fans. So I said I don’t agree. I don’t want to make the fans mad and I don’t want to be disrespectful and I don’t think that mural should be removed.”
The L.A. artist who painted the mural more than three years ago agrees.
“You gotta put some sense into it, man, and think about it and what it really means to L.A.,” Louie Palsino told The Times. “Even if the landlord wants to make money, that’s a landmark people come from all around the world to visit so it’s good for him, his property, every party in this. I don’t see much sense in taking it down for advertisement.”
Moran told The Times she did not seek her landlord’s permission for the mural, but he knew the painting was going up before it was completed and never voiced an objection.
Maroud Omrani — the agent for 400 W Pico LLC, which owns the building — was reached by phone but did not comment.
In the days following the death of Bryant and his daughter, Moran was approached by Palsino about the mural. She agreed after she saw the loving photo of father and daughter that Palsino based it on.
“I fell in love with the idea of having [Kobe] looking after Gigi,” said Moran, who had lost her own father the previous year. “I feel that’s how my father was looking after me, so I said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’”
Moran personally funded the project, spending an estimated $2,500 for supplies and equipment. The artist did his work for free — and cherished every moment.
“The community, when we did it, so many people from around the world came out and watched me do it,” Palsino said. “I always considered that piece like a group effort. There were people bringing me food, feeding me. It was awesome, man, just the energy that people were putting out there was just great. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I got to share that moment with everybody.”
A change.org petition looking to save the mural had nearly 5,000 signatures by late Friday afternoon.
“Maybe we can raise our voice together,” Moran said. “I need more people to help me to preserve the mural and to find a way to make sure it’s going to continue honoring someone who has positively impacted so many people’s lives and has been a role model for a lot of people.”