It is part of human nature to create makeshift memorials as a way to process grief. When someone dies who is a public figure, New Yorkers frequently take to the subway, as we have seen with Prince, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, and others. The tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others on a hillside in Calabasas, California yesterday, has rocked the world. In shock, fans have been gathering at the foot of the hill in California, taking to social media, and here in New York, the Bryant Park subway station received its own Kobe tribute. Someone pasted over a sign on the platform that normally reads 5 Av-Bryant Park with Kobe so it reads Kobe Bryant Park.
This tribute will likely not be the last and we will see how long the MTA allows it to stay. In recent times, the MTA seems to have approached these tributes with a somewhat relaxed approach. A takeover at the Broadway-Lafayette subway entrance that read “STATION TO STATION” in honor of David Bowie’s 1976 song was up for at least a week this past January to mark the anniversary of the singer’s death. The DIY Aretha Franklin tributes were later replaced by official “RESPECT” signs at both the Franklin Street stop in Manhattan and the Franklin Avenue stop in Brooklyn.
Photo by @nyclovesnyc.
The New York Times coverage of Bryant’s death details the groundbreaking career the athlete had on the Los Angeles Lakers and his work as a champion for women’s sports while also acknowledging the 2003 sexual assault complaint by a hotel employee in Colorado. It quotes from Bryant’s public acknowledgement of the case following a settlement of the civil suit (the legal case was dropped), where he said “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did…After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
Bryant’s final tweet was for LeBron James, who plays now for the Lakers, applauding the athlete’s record surpassing his own career points.
Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
Other tributes have since appeared outside Madison Square Garden.
Header photo by @nyclovesnyc.