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27 Jan, 2022 12:34

Bryant memorial accused of snubbing other crash victims

Some have found the statue in honor of the basketball ace and his daughter 'disrespectful'
Bryant memorial accused of snubbing other crash victims

A statue in tribute to Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant has been branded 'disrespectful' for its perceived snubbing of the seven other victims who lost their lives in a 2020 helicopter crash.

The accident site on the Calabasas Peak Trail in Los Angeles has long been visited by fans of the five-time NBA champion.

On January 26, to mark two years since the tragedy, a temporary 150-pound bronze statue was erected of Bryant in his famous number 24 Lakers jersey with his arm around 13-year-old 'Gigi', who wished to follow her father into the pro ranks.

"You come up here and it is kind of emotional," said its creator Dan Medina, who is preparing a larger sculpture for the Downtown area, to the Los Angeles Times.

"The flowers, the jerseys, the hats blow away, and I think we need something more permanent."

"That’s awesome. That is something special to behold. How do they get that all the way up here?" remarked Walter Garcia to the same paper. 

But not everyone shared such enthusiasm.

As Medina shared a picture of his work to his Instagram page, criticism was mixed among compliments 

"Still to this day my deepest condolences," began one. "[But] respectfully in my most humble as a sincere opinion, nine people died including little girls, mothers, fathers, loved ones."

"[It's an] awesome gesture [but I] just thought maybe the others should be recognized as well," it was suggested.

"I think this is a mistake," began another disapproval. "There were seven others who also lost their lives, whose lives are just as important. What is this? A plaque for their grave also? Kobe and his daughter standing above them? This seems foul. 

"If you’re gonna make a beautiful statue like this one, leave it for Kobe and his daughter, but don’t put the other names on it. No one needed Kobe Bryant and his daughter hovering above their names to recognize that this was a tragedy where multiple families and loved ones were impacted."

While some were unsatisfied with the names of the other victims – Christina Mauser, Payton and Sarah Chester, John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, and pilot Ara Zobayan – being engraved below the statue of Bryant and his daughter, tributes have been paid elsewhere.

On Twitter, the WNBA paid tribute to their honorary 2020 draftees Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant, and Payton Chester, and one user said the league deserved respect "for going alphabetical and not just putting Gianna first".

Plenty of other sports accounts such as espnW and the Score followed suit by sharing the WNBA post and either naming Gianna's teammates too or all of the victims.