AUSTIN (KXAN) – Between Thursday night and Friday morning, someone defaced the mural of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, painting the word “rapist” next to Kobe’s face.
Felix Jaimes, one of the artists who created the mural, painted over the word Friday morning.
KXAN photographer Todd Bynum caught up with Jaimes as he was repairing the mural.
In 2003, a 19-year-old hotel worker in Edwards, Colorado accused Bryant of having non-consensual sex with her. The case garnered national media attention and lasted 14 months. It was eventually dismissed because the witness refused to testify.
Bryant, then 24 years old, admitted to having sex with the woman but denied any allegation it wasn’t consensual. Bryant and the woman reached a confidential civil settlement in 2005, but Bryant maintained his innocence.
Below is our original story on the mural from Thursday:
AUSTIN (KXAN) — A mural dedicated to the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi went up this week in Austin after they were both killed in a tragic helicopter crash in California Sunday.
The mural is located on the backside of the restaurant Sushi Hi located at the intersection of Guadalupe Street and 29th Street. It was created by a trio of Texas-based graffiti artists: Josue Rivera, known as Laced and Found; Felix Jaimes, who goes by Snuk One; and Riki Loring.
“Kobe made an impact on so many generations. For Kobe’s fans in Austin, for those who loved him, looked up to him, were inspired by him, for those who made mistakes and did everything in their power to show others that they are more than their mistakes, for those who didn’t know anything about him but respected his legacy and him as a human,” the artist’s Instagram post about the mural said.
Rivera and Jaimes appeared on KXAN Live Thursday afternoon, where they explained that it only took them about seven hours to paint the entire mural. They began planning it Monday and finished all the work Tuesday.
“Everybody has a place now in Austin to go and pay respects and honor Kobe Bryant and everyone who unfortunately passed away in that flight,” Rivera said. “Even though their faces are not on there or the names are not on the wall, everybody knows they were directly tied to Kobe’s untimely death. When people go to that wall and pay respects to Kobe and his daughter, they’re also paying respects to the other people who passed away on that flight.”
Since they finished the artwork, the artists said the wall has become a local memorial to Bryant and his daughter. People have now stopped by and left things like flowers, candles and balloons there. Jaimes said the loss of his uncle last year inspired him to want to create a mural for Bryant even though the renowned NBA player had no direct ties to Austin.
“It hit home to me,” Jaimes said. “Kobe is a symbol of uniting families and getting everyone together, watching the games with close friends and family. It’s just heartbreaking that that symbol itself is what was taken from them.”
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