Alicia Keys opens up about honoring Kobe Bryant 'in his house' on Grammy night

The singer and Grammys host spoke to Ellen DeGeneres about how the last-minute tribute came together.
Singer, songwriter and Grammy host Alicia Keys visited "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and explained how the tribute to Kobe Bryant came together.
Singer, songwriter and Grammy host Alicia Keys visited "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and explained how the tribute to Kobe Bryant came together.Reuters, Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Alicia Keys knew Sunday night would be a big one. She was set to host the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, after all.

But there was a shakeup in the evening’s plans before showtime, as news of the death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant — as well as that of his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others — broke.

On Wednesday’s “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Keys opened up about how a last-minute scramble led to the perfect tribute to the basketball great.

“We were all freaking out, because it was obviously … hearing the news about Kobe and his daughter was so tragic," the 15-time Grammy winner told DeGeneres. "And none of us can still believe it right now, to this day."

However, despite the shock, the show had to go on — in the Staples Center, the very arena Bryant once called home.

"So, I think that it was definitely a crazy feeling because, literally minutes before, we were going to do something else," she continued. "We had to really figure out how can we properly honor him in his house, on this night (with) everybody who adores him and loves him so much and has been inspired by him and felt so devastated in that moment.”

Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men sang in memory of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. ROBYN BECK / AFP - Getty Images

So Keys put on her “meditation music” and brainstormed a way to pay respect to a man who deserved so much respect that night.

"I was just thinking, and I called some of my closest people that helped me, you know, really find the truth in that moment,” she said. “It just so happened that Boyz II Men was there already that night, and we wanted to do something special, create something that felt like it was the right thing."

Alicia Keys performed alongside Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men in honor of Laker legend Kobe Bryant. Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

The words and moving musical tribute that followed felt fitting.

"We pulled it together and it was just beautiful,” Keys explained. “It was like that magic that happens when it's necessary.”

And although there was much pain and grief that night, she added, “That we could go through something that hurt so bad together, I feel really honored to have been able to be there with you (all) in that time."