Massive mural of Joe Louis takes shape in Downtown Detroit

‘It’s kind of the dawn of a new era, but we want to make sure that we’re paying homage to what was here before’

The arena bearing his name is no more, but there's a new tribute to sports icon Joe Louis taking shape downtown. The huge mural of Louis is going up not too far from the site of the old arena.

DETROIT – The arena bearing his name is no more, but there’s a new tribute to sports icon Joe Louis taking shape going up not too far from the site of the old arena.

You may remember the Joe Louis Arena parking garage, and now, right before you get to the tunnel, there’s a large mural of the legendary boxer.

The arena was demolished in March 2020, and that’s when the owners of the parking garage reached out to artist TYP.

“It’s kind of the dawn of a new era, but we want to make sure that we’re paying homage to what was here before,” said TYP.

The inspiration behind the mural’s design is personal for him.

TYP grew up in Bloomfield Hills and said the arena has a special place in his heart.

“Joe Louis has been such an influential figure throughout history, not only of Detroit but just America,” TYP said. “I had such a history with Joe Louis that I grew up a huge hockey fan, huge (Detroit) Red Wings fan. So I wanted to try to find a way to fuse those with kind of a fresh take a lot of color.”

While the bright colors catch your eye, when you look deeper, you find a tribute to what makes Detroit, Detroit.

“I think the resiliency of Detroit also ties into boxing, too,” TYP said. “Like there’s just a fight, and I think that’s why I incorporated a lot of the Detroit brands in there, too. I think that they all have a similar history and a similar driving force behind them.”

TYP has been painting for the last seven days, 12 hours each day. Even as a work of progress, the mural captures the attention of people just passing through.

“I’m in awe at this point,” said David Gonzalez. “We’ve never been here. (This is our) first time in Detroit. We walk up some stairs, hear some people talking, and then we’re like ‘Wow,’”.

As TYP adds the final touches, he can’t help but notice how symbolic the moment really is.

“The whole time, I’ve been looking across the street and just remembering, you know, all the great times I had at the Joe Louis (Arena), so it’s been really special to try to capture those memories and bring it back in such a unique way,” TYP said.

The mural is expected to be finished by the end of this week.

TYP also created artwork at Little Caesars Arena that pays tribute to Ben Wallace and Chris Chelios.


About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.