With cans of spray paint, brushes and a ladder, artist Theo Ponchaveli brought Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gigi to life in Dallas.
"I wish I could paint everybody before anything tragic happens," Ponchaveli said. "It was just something from the heart."
Ponchaveli was working on another mural project when he heard the news of the deadly helicopter crash that killed the former Los Angeles Lakers star, his daughter Gigi, and 7 others.
"It's one thing to lose a child, but it's another to go down with your child," Ponchaveli said. "You kind of think about how many seconds they knew they had before it was the end. Did he embrace her? Did he hold her?"
Connecting you to your favorite North Texas sports teams as well as sports news around the globe.
Artist Paints Mural of Kobe, Gigi Bryant Inside Dallas Gym
Ponchaveli, a father himself, said Bryant and his daughter's deaths hit him hard.
"The location was a no-brainer," Ponchaveli said as he worked on the mural inside Sanders Fit Performance Center in The Cedars neighborhood of Dallas.
He said he's done murals there in the past.
"I didn't ask for permission," Ponchaveli said. "I felt it was easier to ask for forgiveness."
"Probably around 10 o'clock last night I checked the cameras," Melvin Sanders said.
It was the first he knew about the mural taking shape inside his gym.
"I'm like, 'Wait, that's a really nice surprise that he's actually doing an amazing tribute to Kobe.'"
Sanders, who was on the San Antonio Spurs in 2005-06, played against Bryant.
"I wore No. 24 for part of my career. I mean, I wore Kobe Bryant shoes every single day that I played the game," Sanders said. "I was just, just unreal, right?"
Ponchaveli said the mural was about more than basketball; it's about fatherhood and following dreams.
"Makes you hug your loved ones," Ponchaveli said. "Hold them tight."