The NBA All-Star died tragically in a fatal helicopter crash that not only took his life, but the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other passengers, according to the AP.
After Lizzo performed, host Alicia Keys took the stage somberly saying she didn’t expect to open the show like this. “Earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero,” she began.
“And we’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” Keys continued, referencing the Staples Center where Bryant played for 20 years with the Los Angles Lakers.
Honoring the people who lost their lives in the Calabasas, California helicopter crash, Keys added that they’re in “our spirit, they’re in our hearts, they’re in our prayers, they’re in this building.”
“I would like to ask everybody to take moment and hold them inside of you and share our strength and our support with their families. We never imagines in a million years that we’d have to start the show like this.”
Keys said that the Academy “wanted to do something” to honor Bryant, his daughter and the others who perished in the crash. Then she began a soulful rendition of Boyz II Men’s 1991 hit song, “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye.” The Philadelphia R&B group, who grew up in the same city as Bryant, then joined Keys onstage.
“We love you Kobe,” Keys said.