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

"I know I may get in trouble for raising my voice, but I’m going to stand up for what I believe," Hardcore Fitness owner Cecilia Moran said

Ethan Miller/Getty
Ethan Miller/Getty

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

Cecilia Moran, the gym's owner, shared news of the mural's impending removal on Instagram Friday. Painted by Louie Palsino, the artwork depicts the late NBA legend and his daughter, who died in a helicopter crash in January 2020, with angel wings, looking lovingly at each other.

“With profound sadness, 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 30," Moran wrote online of the mural — which covers an entire wall of Hardcore Fitness, which is located in downtown L.A. near Arena, home of Bryant’s former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Related: From NBA Star to Devoted Family Man: Kobe Bryant's Life in Photos

“This mural holds immense significance, not just 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 crafted with boundless love by @sloe_motions with my wholehearted support.”

“I am overwhelmed with sorrow, and I strongly oppose the removal of this mural. While I respect regulations, I fervently hope there might be a way to preserve this artwork,” she added, finishing the post by asking for help keeping the mural in place.

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

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

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

"I said I don’t believe it’s right,” the Hardcore Fitness owner explained. “That mural also benefits advertising and has a lot of meaning to the city and to Kobe fans. So I said I don’t agree. I don’t want to make the fans mad, and I don’t want to be disrespectful, and I don’t think that mural should be removed.”

Moran's landlord said he would take measures to remove the mural himself and send her the bill if she does not do it, per the Times.

Related: Remembering Kobe Bryant on 3rd Anniversary of Crash That Also Killed His Daughter, Gianna, and 7 Others

Palsino, who painted the mural over three years ago, echoed Moran, telling the newspaper, "You gotta put some sense into it, man, and think about it and what it really means to L.A.”

"Even if the landlord wants to make money, that’s a landmark people come from all around 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 much sense in taking it down for advertisement.”

Allen Berezovsky/Getty
Allen Berezovsky/Getty

Related: Lakers Recount the Emotional Moment They Learned of Kobe Bryant's Death on Team Plane

Though Moran did not seek her landlord’s permission for the painting, she told the newspaper that he was made aware of it before it was completed and did not raise any objections.

Moran, whose father had died in 2019, told the Times that she agreed to let Palsino paint the piece after she “fell in love with the idea of having [Kobe] looking after Gigi.”

“I feel that’s how my father was looking after me, so I said, ‘Yes, let’s do it,' " she added.

Related: His Lakers Legacy, Mamba Mentality, Family Life & Everything in Between: Kobe Bryant's Ups and Downs

Palsino approached Moran about the mural soon after Kobe and Gianna’s death, and painted it for free. The gym owner put $2,500 toward supplies and equipment for the project.

“The community, when we did it, so many people from around 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 bringing me food, feeding me. It was awesome, man, just the energy that people were putting out there was just great. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I got to share that moment with everybody.”

A petition asking Moran’s landlord to “reconsider their decision and keep this meaningful tribute intact” has garnered over 18,000 signatures as of Saturday afternoon.

“I'm reaching out to the members of the community, the Lakers, the mayor of L.A., Vanessa Bryant, to all of those Lakers diehards to not leave me alone,” Moran told KNBC. “I'm standing in the middle. I know I may get in trouble for raising my voice, but I’m going to stand up for what I believe.”

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