The Grammy Awards recognize outstanding achievement in music. But with the ceremony being held tonight at Los Angeles’ Staples Center hours after former Lakers star Kobe Bryant died, there is somber tone at the venue, which was home to his remarkable basketball career.
Bryant died in a Calabasas, Calif., helicopter crash Sunday morning at the age of 41 alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi. They were reportedly en route to his Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., for one of Gigi’s basketball games.
While Bryant was best known for his legendary basketball career, he had many relationships beyond the world of basketball. As the Grammys are being held at the Staples Center, Bryant’s longtime home court, fans flocked outside the venue to pay respects. On the red carpet, stars remembered the athlete, too.
“He was one of the greatest athletes and basketball players to ever live. … His absence will be felt by so many people he touched,” said Ryan Seacrest from the carpet. “This is unthinkable. This is a man and family we’ve gotten to know over the years. We’ve watched him play here before.”
Speaking with Seacrest, Diplo mourned Bryant, calling the loss “devastating and sad.”
“Kobe brought his energy to Los Angeles for 20 years. This is his backyard. This is his home. He transcends iconic, so he’s going to live forever,” Diplo said.
John Legend is performing a tribute tonight to another star who died young: rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot in April in L.A.
“I’m so sad and stunned right now. In Staples Arena, where Kobe created so many memories for all of us, preparing to pay tribute to another brilliant man we lost too soon, Nipsey Hussle. Life can be so brutal and senseless sometimes. Hold on to your loved ones. We miss you, Kobe,” wrote Legend.
Legend is performing alongside DJ Khaled, who discussed Bryant’s tragic passing on the carpet.
“We are going to pay homage to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna,” he said. “We’re going to honor the spirits, pay homage and show love to them.”
Demi Lovato, who is also performing tonight, paid her respects to Bryant on Instagram, writing: “This makes me so sad. Kobe you were always so sweet to me. Known you over 10 years … not super well but we always joked about you coming over and playing that game of horse! You will be so missed by so many. You’re a legend with wings now.”
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This makes me so sad. Kobe you were always so sweet to me. Known you over 10 years.. not super well but we always joked about you coming over and playing that game of horse! You will he so missed by so many. You’re a legend with wings now. RIP Kobe 💔💔💔 *update* I just heard his daughter Gigi was also in the accident and it breaks my heart. This whole family was so sweet and now they’re in my prayers heavy. RIP Gigi beautiful girl. 💔💔💔
Speaking with Seacrest from the red carpet, Smokey Robinson said: “I know it’s going to be somber, but I hope we can celebrate. … As a dad, there’s nothing you can do, it’s rough.”
While Kanye West is not expected to attend the Grammys, he took to Twitter to mourn Bryant.
“Kobe, We love you brother We’re praying for your family and appreciate the life you’ve lived and all the inspiration you gave,” the rapper-designer wrote.
Lizzo, who is in attendance at the Grammys in a white Versace dress, posted a tribute to Bryant on Instagram. She did not caption the photo.
Meanwhile, Trevor Noah, a nominee for his comedy album, said: “I don’t think I processed anything yet; I don’t think anyone has.”
“It’s one of those experiences where you can feel it. Everybody can feel it,” the talk show host told Seacrest.