SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For a man known for his "Mamba Mentality," Nike is going to dedicate a week to the late Kobe Bryant. There are two significant dates, Aug. 23 which would have been Kobe's 42nd birthday and Monday, Aug. 24, the two numbers Kobe wore in his Hall of Fame career.
Kobe was an inspiration to many for his feats both on and off the court. Bay Area native Nick Montgomery knew he had to do something when the Los Angeles Lakers legend tragically died along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in January.
"First, you know honestly, I didn't really believe it. It took me by surprise," said Montgomery. "Immediately, once the news hit I was like you know what I have to do something, I felt a calling for it."
While fans across the globe paid tributes through murals, Montgomery who attended San Lorenzo High, felt that calling to honor his hoops hero through a process he calls Word Art.
"People say you know, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, I kind of took that idea and kind of flipped it on it's head and used those thousand words to make portraits instead," said Montgomery.
Montgomery spent nearly four months on the piece which includes approximately 4,000 words. Within the image, you will see every Laker teammate Kobe played with in his career, along with his stats, the names of the victims in the crash and his wife Vanessa's entire speech from the memorial. All carefully crafted and written by hand in Sharpie, transforming words into art honoring Kobe.
"A lot of people always ask. Oh, you know is that a digital? Did you use a computer? No, the computer is my brain. It forms as I'm writing. I'll take breaks and take a step back and look at where I'm at and just continue writing. Just kind of use the picture that I've printed out as reference and then you get what you see behind me," said Montgomery.
When asked about the reaction he gets when fans purchase the Kobe portrait, Montgomery says there is sheer joy.
"A lot of emotion, is involved. But it works because this is what I put into these pieces. For it to pass through me and get touch other people in that way. I feel like my job as a person is done. I feel like I've done what I was put on this earth for," said Montgomery.
He says his goal is to ultimately get the picture to Vanessa Bryant.
"I did this portrait out of pure love. I would ultimately want to have the original in your (Vanessa's) hands," said Montgomery.