Fans commemorate life of NBA icon Kobe Bryant

Students gathered to pay tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant earlier this week by painting The Rock.

People across the country paid homage to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant following their death from a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. The crash also claimed the lives of seven other passengers. Students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville painted The Rock with tributes commemorating the life of Bryant and Gianna.

The ground in front of The Rock reads “Rest in paradise. Legends never die.” Fans painted the face of The Rock with Bryant’s jersey number “24” and the back with “RIP Gianna.”

Students pay tribute to Gianna Bryant on The Rock in Knoxville, Tennessee on Jan. 26. Photo/ Sean Poston

UT junior Bryce Kenny, the artist behind the “24” painting, spoke about the inspiration behind the image.

“I had passed The Rock and seen someone just write ‘RIP KOBE,’ but I felt like it needed to be more than that,” Kenny said.

Kenny went on to mention how he and a friend spent $50 on paint. Afterwards, he posted a picture of his work with the caption “Worth all the time and money I spent plus some. Rest in Paradise.”  The pair stayed once they finished painting and watched people admire their tribute.

“We just stood there and looked at it and saw the joy it brought other people to see it,” Kenny said.

Photos of The Rock and other memorials for the victims of the helicopter crash have been trending on social media. Artists such as: Alicia Keys, John Legend and Lil Nas X paid tribute to Bryant and Gianna.

Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban paid homage to Bryant by retiring the number 24 and announced that none of his players will ever wear that jersey number.

ABC and ESPN aired a documentary Sunday night honoring Bryant. The documentary, now on Hulu, included clips of the player’s life and news reports from that morning’s accident. Fans even went to the lengths of creating numerous petitions for the NBA to change the logo from a silhouette of Jerry West to Bryant.

Along with Bryant and Gianna, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan died in the crash.

Bryant lives on through his wife Vanessa Bryant and daughters Natalia Bryant, Bianka Bryant and Capri Bryant. The NBA icon won five championships, an MVP award, 15 All Star appearances and more. He is expected to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame posthumous later this year.

Edited by Ciera Noe and Grace Goodacre

Featured image by Sean Poston