Las Vegas artists pay tribute to Kobe Bryant

Mural also honors rapper Nipsey Hussle
Posted at 1:33 PM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 17:22:03-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Ever since the deadly helicopter crash in Southern California, artists all around the country and the world have been paying tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant with murals in their honor.

In Las Vegas, local artists Adolfo Medina and Juan Ochoa honored the “Black Mamba” at the YMCA Southern Nevada on Meadows Lane.

“Through art and spiritually, Kobe is going to live forever,“ Medina said. “Kobe is the man. I don't know anyone more influential than Kobe."

It was because of inspiration like that they chose to honor the basketball icon.

They paid tribute to Kobe and rapper Nipsey Hussle with a message that reads “Dream Big.”

Ochoa, who goes by “Latin Artist,” said the opportunity came about as a random stroke of luck. He said he found out somebody had walls to paint, so he decided to take on the project.

“They said they wanted memorial portraits, so I said, ‘I’m perfect with portraits,’” Ochoa said. “I might as well give it a try.”

However, he didn’t want to do it alone.

He had other friends who were also good artists with graffiti so he messaged several of them. Medina, who goes by “The One Intro,” decided to collaborate with Ochoa.

“I was like, ‘yeah man, let’s do it,” Medina said. “Last minute he hit me up and I went and did it.”

“Adolfo Medina was also a beast and a savage when it came to portraits, so at least, if I get to paint along his side, there is a lot I can learn,” Ochoa said.

They painted a couple of walls meant as memorials. The first was in honor of Chadwick Boseman, who is well-known for his portrayal of the “Black Panther” in Marvel movies.

For the other wall, they decided to go with Hussle and Kobe.

“We chose them because they had recently passed away, and we thought they were inspirational people to acknowledge,” Ochoa said.

Medina said he was grateful to immortalize someone like Kobe Bryant because he means a lot to so many people.

“Kobe isn't physically here anymore, but that type of mindset he has left here can go on for generations and generations,” he said. “Kobe is just that special person. Definitely a blessing to us. Everything good comes from above. That's what Kobe was. Kobe was a blessing for us."

Ochoa said it was not an easy job to do, but that’s what he enjoyed about it.

He said it was challenging to do because they did it during 110-degree weather over the summer. That made it hard to make the spray cans work because sometimes they don’t work when it’s hot.

But he says it was all worth it.

“A lot of people like the art work, and I like it, too. But it was the challenge that I liked about it the most,” Ochoa said.

He said it was all about honoring two men gone too soon, who were determined to reach their dreams.

“It was one thing I could relate to them,” he said. “The fact that they always were driven by adversity to look forward into that. They were very inspirational for the fact that they had to use their own creativity, their own inspiration to kind of acknowledge that even though the circumstances were not in their favor, there was always opportunity in every problem.”

Ochoa was inspired by Kobe’s so-called “mamba mentality.”

He admired Kobe’s drive, his confidence in what he was doing and his courage to step into the unknown.

“Kobe’s willing to say I’m willing to be the one oft the best at a young age, and I completely respect and admire that decision he made because it took him a long way,” Ochoa said.

Medina said he was inspired by Kobe’s will to be great.

“To hear someone like Kobe Bryant and see the dedication and the obsession he had to be the best version of himself, is absolutely incredible,” Medina said. "He taught me that no matter what obstacle comes toward us nothing can stop you if you really want to do something. When you want to be the greatest, you go for it and you let nothing stop you.”

Ochoa said they got a lot of positive responses on the mural, but what he enjoys the most is that it inspired some people to know more about Hussle and Bryant.

“He went out at a young age, both of them did, so the fact that they can acknowledge it and they can kind of remember Nipsey more and (they are) more inspired to look into his story or they said, ‘I want to learn more about Kobe Bryant.’ That was actually the best part,” Ochoa said.

There is a website that has a location of each Kobe mural around the country. To see the closest murals, click here.