L.A. Gym Owner Fights Back After Landlord Demands Kobe and Gianna Bryant Mural Be Removed

A Los Angeles gym owner is fighting to keep a mural dedicated to Kobe and Gianni Bryant on the wall of her facility.

Cecilia Moran, the owner of the gym, took to Instagram on Friday to share the news of the mural’s imminent removal. Painted by Louie Palsino, the artwork depicts the late NBA legend and his daughter, who died in a helicopter crash in January 2020, wearing angel wings, gazing lovingly at each other.

“It is with deep sadness that I must share that today I received notice from my landlord that I must remove the Kobe and LA mural from our walls by September 30th,” Moran wrote online about the mural — which covers an entire wall of Hardcore Fitness, located in downtown LA near the Crypto.com Arena, home of Bryant’s former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

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“This mural has tremendous significance, not only for the city of LA and Lakers fans, but more importantly, as a tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi,” she continued. “This mural was created with boundless love by @sloe_motions with my wholehearted support.”

“I am overwhelmed with sadness and strongly oppose the removal of this mural. While I respect the regulations, I fervently hope that there is a way to preserve this work of art,” she added, ending the post with a plea for help to keep the mural in place.

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Since receiving the request to remove the mural, Moran has spoken to several news outlets about the situation, including Los Angeles Times.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

“It’s a piece of art that pays tribute to an iconic person,” she told the newspaper about the mural. She added that her landlord wants it removed to make room for advertising.

“I said I don’t believe it’s right,” explained the owner of Hardcore Fitness. “That mural also benefits advertising and has a lot of meaning for the city and Kobe’s fans. So I said I disagree. No I don’t want to anger the fans and I don’t want to be disparaging, and I don’t think that mural should be removed.”

Moran’s landlord said he would take steps to remove the mural himself and send her a bill if she didn’t, according to times.

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Palsino, who painted the mural more than three years ago, echoed Moran, telling the newspaper, “You’ve got to put some sense into it, man, and think about it and what it really means for LA.”

“Even if the landlord wants to make money, it’s a landmark that people come from all over the world to visit, so it’s good for him, his property, every party in this,” he said. Palsino added that he “doesn’t see the point in taking it down for advertising.”

Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California

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Although Moran did not seek her landlord’s permission for the painting, she told the newspaper that he was aware of it before it was completed and had no objections.

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She told Moran, whose father died in 2019 the times that she agreed to allow Palsin to paint the work after she “fell in love with the idea of ​​having [Kobe] taking care of Gigi.”

“I feel like my father looked out for me like that, so I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,'” she added.

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Palsino approached Moran about the mural shortly after Kobe and Gianna’s deaths, and he painted it for free. The gym owner invested $2,500 in supplies and equipment for the project.

“The community, when we did it, so many people from all over the world came out and watched me do it,” Palsino told the newspaper, adding that the mural was “like a group effort.”

He continued: “There were people who brought me food, fed me. It was great, man, just the energy that the people were putting out there was just great. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I have to share that moment with everyone.”

A Change.org petition asking Morana’s landlord to “reconsider their decision and keep this meaningful tribute intact” had collected more than 18,000 signatures by Saturday afternoon.

“I’m reaching out to the community members, the Lakers, the mayor of LA, Vanessa Bryant, all those die-hard Lakers to not leave me alone,” Moran told KNBC. “I stand in the middle. I know I could get in trouble for raising my voice, but I will stand up for what I believe in.”

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