A giant outdoor mural will be unveiled and the Santa Monica Pier’s Ferris wheel will be lit up in purple and gold Wednesday to mark “Mamba Day,” the annual L.A. celebration of the life and career of the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
The unofficial remembrance of Bryant, who was nicknamed “Black Mamba,” takes place every Aug. 24 — or 8/24, in a nod to the uniform numbers 8 and 24 that he wore during his 20-year Hall of Fame career.
Both his numbers were retired by the Lakers in 2017, the year after he hung up his sneakers, making him the first NBA player to have two numbers retired by the same team.
Bryant, who died Jan. 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas that also took the lives of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, would have turned 44 on Tuesday, and his widow, Vanessa, posted on Instagram, “Happy birthday, baby! I love you and miss you so much! #44 (heart).”
To mark Mamba Day 2022, a giant outdoor mural will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the offices of the West Coast Trial Lawyers at 1147 S. Hope St.
Created by the muralist Odeith and L.A.-based illustrator Nikkolas Smith, it measures 125 feet by 32 feet — which the artists say is the largest portrait of Bryant ever created in the city. It covers an entire side of the building.
The mural depicts a close-up of Bryant’s face, in black-and-white, in the middle, flanked by a mamba snake on the left and, in color, a group of children — including Gianna — playing basketball atop a giant book.
The book is “Epoca,” one of the children’s stories Bryant created through his Granity Studios company after he retired from basketball.
The mural is designed to highlight both Bryant’s fiery competitive nature and his gentler side, according to a spokesman for the artists.
“Kobe Bryant created stories for children that featured Black and Brown characters, so he inspired kids in ways that went even beyond what he did on the basketball court,” Smith told City News Service.
“It was an honor to make this mural, a dedication to Kobe and his creative and athletic genius.”
Meanwhile, beginning at sunset Wednesday — about 7:29 p.m. — the 90-foot-tall Ferris wheel at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier will be lit up with the numbers 8 and 24, as well as with the Lakers’ gold and purple colors in a variety of patterns and transitions.
Visitors to the pier will be able to see “LA (heart) 24” and “LA (heart) 8 from sunset to midnight, officials said.
Bryant played his entire career with the Lakers and became the team’s all-time leader in games (1,346), minutes played (48,637), field goals (11,719) and 3-point goals (1,827), among numerous team records.
He also is the Lakers’ all-time leader in points with 33,643. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar finished his 20-year career with an NBA-record 38,387 points, but only 24,176 were achieved in his 14 seasons with the Lakers.
Bryant also led the Lakers to five NBA titles and appeared in 18 All-Star Games.
He wore No. 8 from 1996 to 2006, then switched to 24 for the rest of his career.