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Statue of Kobe and Gianna Bryant placed at crash site on anniversary

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A bronze statue commemorating NBA icon Kobe Bryant and his teen daughter Gianna was placed Wednesday at the helicopter crash site near Los Angeles where they and seven others died two years ago.

The statue depicts the Bryants wearing basketball uniforms as Gianna holds Kobe's hand. The one-day memorial was also engraved with the names of the other victims who died in the chopper that was en route to Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks.

Artist Dan Medina's bronze sculpture depicting Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna Bryant, and the names of those who died in a helicopter crash in 2020 is seen during a one-day temporary memorial display in Calabasas, California. / Credit: Josh Lefkowitz / Getty Images
Artist Dan Medina's bronze sculpture depicting Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna Bryant, and the names of those who died in a helicopter crash in 2020 is seen during a one-day temporary memorial display in Calabasas, California. / Credit: Josh Lefkowitz / Getty Images

The statue's sculptor, Dan Medina, greeted fans who made the 1.3-mile hike in Calabasas to pay their respects to the Los Angeles Lakers legend. He told Reuters that "no one asked" him to do the project and he did it all on his own.

"On this day, the second anniversary of the accident, I decided to bring it up for the day from sunrise to sunset and create a bit of a healing process for fans," he said. "And today was special because I witnessed a lot of that. People would come up and they would leave with some sort of satisfaction knowing something is gonna be done."

A statue of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna was brought Wednesday to the site near Los Angeles where they perished in a January 26, 2020, helicopter crash alongside seven others. pic.twitter.com/hDBdgrUvIk

— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 27, 2022

From public memorials to sneaker tributes, many fans and sports figures paid tribute to Bryant on Wednesday.

Among them, Lakers legend Magic Johnson said Bryant "left an incredible legacy both on the court and off. We will never forget."

Kobe left an incredible legacy both on the court and off. We will never forget #8/24! pic.twitter.com/0yxOTkhiMo

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 27, 2022

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young posted a photo of a younger Kobe and another of him with his daughter.

♾ 🖤🤍 pic.twitter.com/W9gwiJhYDg

— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) January 26, 2022

Longtime NBA player Carmelo Anthony posted an image of Kobe and Gianna sitting courtside at a basketball game.

pic.twitter.com/cQI2nyruB9

— Carmelo Anthony (@carmeloanthony) January 26, 2022

Another Lakers icon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, remembered Bryant's influence as a father to his four daughters.

"I know many of you are out there and you miss him and still wish to see his brilliance on the court, and what he was doing as a dad," he said. "It was wonderful the way he was coaching girls and getting them into the game. I hope all of you out there remember him the way you should and give your prayers to his wife and family."

The helicopter crash has been a subject of lawsuits. Lawyers for Vanessa Bryant sued Los Angeles County, claiming pictures of Kobe and Gianna's bodies were passed around on LA County Sheriff's Department devices and others belonging to firefighters, CBS Los Angeles reports. Vanessa Bryant and other plaintiffs settled their lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter in the crash.

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