While Kobe Bryant didn't have any deep ties to New York City, there's no shortage of deep love for him here.
Following Madison Square Garden's tribute to Bryant on Sunday night, just hours after his death, a makeshift tribute went up at the 42nd St-Bryant Park subway station on Monday, where a sign was altered to read "Kobe Bryant Park." Now something a little more official, albeit temporary, has gone up in the city's transit system.
The company that handles digital ad space for the subway system (and beyond) has brought its own tribute to Bryant to their screens today. The homage is running not just in NYC's subway systems, but on cabs, and elsewhere nationwide (including Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Bryant's Los Angeles). The subway ad consists of three screens, with the right and left featuring gold text on purple, and the words: #MambaForever. In the middle screen there's a heart with a black mamba snake around it.
Bryant gave himself the nickname "Black Mamba" in 2003, around the time of the sexual assault allegations made against him. In 2014 he told The New Yorker, "The name [Kobe Bryant] just evokes such a negative emotion... I said, 'If I create this alter ego, so now when I play this is what's coming out of your mouth, it separates the personal stuff, right?' You're not watching David Banner—you're watching the Hulk." The nickname came to him after watching Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, he said, "in which the snake, known for its agility and aggressiveness, was used as a code name for a deadly assassin. 'I read up on the animal and said, Wow... this is a perfect description of how I would want my game to be.'"
Bryant went on to create the Mamba Sports Academy, a facility that supports youth, amateur and elite athletes; he was on his way there when his helicopter crashed on Sunday, killing him and eight others, including his daughter Gigi, who he gave the nickname "Mambacita."
"We like to engage with the public on an emotional level," a rep for Outfront, the company behind the screens, told Gothamist. "The death of Kobe Bryant was something which clearly many people have sought to connect with their community." They will be rotating throughout the end of the day.