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Kobe Bryant honored in emotional open to Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards telecast began Sunday night with a tribute to the former Los Angeles Lakers star, who died in a helicopter crash earlier in the day.
/ Source: TODAY

Just hours after Kobe Bryant’s shocking death, the Grammy Awards paid tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers legend in the arena where he starred for two decades, the Staples Center.

Lizzo kicked off the primetime telecast with a shoutout to Bryant before her performance. “Tonight is for Kobe!” she said.

Lizzo performs onstage during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.
Lizzo performs onstage during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.Getty Images

Grammy host Alicia Keys followed Lizzo with her own special message honoring Bryant, who was 41.

“Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best. But to be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now because earlier today Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero,” she said. “And we are literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”

Alicia Keys speaks about late NBA legend Kobe Bryant during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.ROBYN BECK / AFP - Getty Images

She asked the attendees to share their strength and support with the families of the victims, who also included Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Keys then launched into a stirring rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with Boyz II Men.

“We love you, Kobe,” Keys said.

The Grammys’ pre-telecast ceremony also acknowledged the loss of Bryant, with interim Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. calling for a moment of silence in Bryant’s honor.

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Bryant, a five-time champion with the Lakers, and daughter Gianna were among several people who died in a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area on Sunday morning. Fans gathered outside the Staples Center later in the day to pay their respects to Bryant in front of a makeshift memorial comprised of flowers, candles, signs and Laker items.

Friends and notable names including former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, President Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres quickly reacted to the news on social media.

"There are no words to express the pain I’m going through now with this tragic and sad moment," O'Neal wrote.