Since Kobe Bryant’s tragic death on Sunday, fans have honored him through murals, vigils, and now tattoos.
A lot of Kobe Bryant fans have decided that they want a permanent reminder of their hero. Tattoo artists are the ones making it happen for them, and it’s been a busy week.
Tattoo artist Jose Guijosa has been inking customers in his busy studio in Montclair. He originally made a custom Kobe tattoo for one of his clients and that piece spread quickly, with community members contacting him to draw similar portraits.
“I feel an attachment to [Kobe] … he represented the Lakers, and everybody grew up looking at the Lakers,” Guijosa said. “To have these tattoos become famous… it’s great.”
The fans getting Kobe tattoos say that the NBA star was about doing your best and having pride in Los Angeles. Guijosa works with them closely to create the image that they want.
“[The customers] throw me their ideas, I throw it out on my iPad, and I start creating everything,” Guijosa said.
Customers found a way to honor both the Kobe and his daughter, Gigi.
“I got on Kobe’s jersey and his daughter Gigi’s jersey,” said Alex Castro, a local resident and customer at Guijosa’s tattoo parlor. “It was just heartbreaking to hear that he got into an accident, especially with his daughter. [I have] a daughter, and it’s just painful.”
Guijosa says that the tattoos represent more than just basketball or a portrait– these customers and the artists say this work is a way to heal, a way to celebrate the life and legacy of the one and only Kobe Bryant.
“I was born and raised in Southern California… my introduction to basketball was watching Kobe Bryant,” said customer Taylor Hill. “Just hearing the interviews, adopting the Mamba Mentality lifestyle, applying it to everything in life…everything I do, I make sure I have the Mamba Mentality.”
Guijosa stayed in his shop and provided tattoos to everyone in his shop until midnight.
“I like doing portraits with his picture there,” Guijosa said. “Kobe means a lot to everybody. Everybody and I grew up looking at Kobe on the TV…it’s a part of us.”
Guijosa's is not the only tattoo shop doing Kobe Byrant tattoos. The Pushing Ink Tattoo Studio in El Monte is running a Kobe special - a 2" x 2" tattoo for $24 – plus an $8 tip. Larger pieces will cost more, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for them, as the store expects Kobe fans to visit all during the weekend.
"It’s definitely an honor to be able to put this on our customers and you know, they show their love for Kobe Bryant by getting his logo, his number," said Robert Robles, the co-owner of the tattoo studio.