As news broke of the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of the legendary basketball player, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven other people, Los Angeles – and the rest of the world – froze up in a state of utter shock and mourning.
Several hours later, it was time for the music industry to celebrate and honor its top achievers at what was to be a glitzy, uplifting show the planet looks forward to and talks about in the days that follow. This year, however, all everyone could think and talk about was Bryant.
As she opened the 62nd annual ceremony at the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, where Bryant played for 20-seasons during his entire NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Lizzo remarked “Tonight is for Kobe,” and then delved into a memorable performance of her hit, “Cuz I Love You.”
While finding it difficult to process the immense tragedy that took the life a celebrated and universally-adored icon, stars fled to their social media accounts to pay their respects to Bryant’s family, namely his wife Vanessa, with whom the athlete shared three other daughters, along with Gianna (whom they called Gigi) who took her final breath alongside her father, on a foggy morning near Calabasas, California, as they were on their way to a basketball camp.
“Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best, but to be honest with you, we are feeling crazy sad right now. We are literally standing here, heartbroken, in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” said host Alicia Keys, as she took the stage to sing an emotional tribute to Bryant.
“He would want us to keep the vibrations high,” added Keys, as she held back tears while masterfully playing the piano.
The red carpet that preceded the ceremony was, understandably, just as somber and much more lowkey from what is usually an extravaganza of showstopping getups and gimmicks. Most stars spent their few moments giving interviews sharing their feelings regarding the tragedy and opening up about their personal stories that involved Bryant, holding back tears while paying their respects.