Time magazine honours Kobe Bryant, depicting his final bow on court

Shot by Michael Muller, the poignant photo shows the basketball legend – who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday – in his last moments as an LA Laker.

28 January 2020

American basketball legend Kobe Bryant is honoured on the cover of this week's Time Magazine, following his death aged 41 in a helicopter crash on Sunday 26 January. The photo is shot by Michael Muller and depicts his final bow as an LA Laker, the end of his 20-year career with the team in 2016. Shown in a poignant portrait from behind, focusing on his poised hand and famed number 24 jersey, Bryant is stood in the spotlight bowing his head to crowds for the last time on court.

Muller worked with Bryant numerous times, and shared a number of photographs of the sports star on his Instagram after his death was announced. Fittingly for Bryant’s hero status, Muller is also known for his work photographing artwork for Marvel movies such as The Avengers and Iron Man. When Time revealed its cover featuring Muller’s photo, it called Bryant’s passing “one of the most stunning and tragic losses in the history of sports and global celebrity.”

Bryant was not only an NBA legend but a successful creative, winning an Oscar for Best Short Animated film in 2018 for Dear Basketball – a film based on a letter he wrote to announce his retirement in November 2015, devoted to his beloved sport. It was directed by Glen Keane, once a character animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios on The Little MermaidAladdin and Pocahontas, and scored by none other than John Williams.

Since Bryant’s death, his production company Granity Studios has released the film on Vimeo, which you can watch below; narrated by Bryant himself, it now makes for emotional viewing. Bryant launched Granity with a mission to “create new ways to tell stories around sports... Stories that are crafted to entertain, by bringing education and inspiration together,” and to “foster emotional and mental development” in young athletes. The company works with writers, producers and illustrators to bring these stories to life.

Time’s cover photo is courtesy of Michael Muller and CPi Syndication. The magazine's commemorative Kobe Bryant issue is out Friday 31 January.

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Michael Muller and CPi Syndication: Time Magazine

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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