A local artist has painted a mural commemorating a Los Angeles Angels player and Santa Monica High School alumnus who recently died.
Jonas Never, who specializes in murals featuring local icons, painted a portrait of Tyler Skaggs near the high school where he first made his mark as a pitcher. While Never didn’t know Skaggs personally, he felt a special connection with him because he also played baseball at Samohi and wore a No. 11 jersey.
“It was so cool to see a local kid become a hero, and I always followed his career,” Never said. “I want to have Tyler looking over the school forever and for the Santa Monica community to have a place to remember him.”
Never said Skaggs’ former teammates and opponents donated paint and materials for the mural, which he painted over three days and completed Wednesday.
“It was an honor to do it, and to have his wife and mom come by and say that I really captured who he was,” Never said.
He said Pico Youth and Family Center (PYFC) offered its wall after being approached by local nonprofit Art Without Boundaries and a retired sergeant from the Santa Monica Police Department who worked with Never to bring the mural to fruition.
“We wanted to honor his legacy as a Samohi alum and as someone who realized his dreams of playing professional baseball,” said PYFC director Oscar de la Torre. “He’s an inspiration to many and we wanted to honor his legacy.”
Skaggs died July 1 after being found unresponsive in his hotel room in Texas before the Angels’ scheduled series opener against the Rangers, which was postponed. Texas police said no foul play was suspected.
With the team out of town, dozens of fans went to Angel Stadium and gathered out front in the hours after Skaggs’ death was announced. They left flowers, hats, baseballs, signs, photos and other memorabilia in a makeshift memorial mound.
Skaggs’ death was deeply felt in Santa Monica and at Samohi, where his mother taught softball and is now a physical education teacher. He was drafted to the Angels after graduating from Samohi in 2009 and later played for minor and major league teams before coming back to the Angels in 2013.
“Tyler continued to make visits to our schools the past several years to speak with students and we proudly watched his ascent in professional baseball, along with his family,” Ben Drati, superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said in a statement.