Lizzo opened the televised portion of the Grammy Awards Sunday night with a tribute to Kobe Bryant, the NBA star who was killed in a helicopter crash hours earlier. “Tonight is for Kobe,” she said before launching into a few bars of her song “Cuz I Love You.”
Workers at the Staples Center — where Bryant spent the majority of his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers — quickly removed the curtains covering Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys that were retired in December 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported. And a spotlight was placed on the two jerseys during the awards show.
“To be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy-sad right now,” host Alicia Keys said. “And we’re standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.” Members of the classic R&B group Boyz II Men then joined her for a short version of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
Bryant also was given a moment of silence during the pre-televised portion of the show. “As most of you may know, we lost Kobe Bryant in a tragic helicopter accident today,” the Recording Academy’s interim CEO Harvey Mason Jr. at the pre-telecast ceremony. “Since we are in his house, I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence.”
As music stars arrived for the Grammys, hundreds of Lakers fans gathered outside the Staples Center to create a flower memorial for Bryant. Among them was WNBA star Chiney Ogwumike, who took videos of the impromptu tribute as fans were beginning to arrive.
I can’t even believe this is real… right now outside Staples. ???? pic.twitter.com/yuunIbG2Ms
— Chiney Ogwumike (@Chiney321) January 26, 2020
Watch Keys and Boyz II Men sing in the video above.