The tragic deaths of basketball legend Kobe Bryant along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday have affected a great many people. Jimmy Fallon, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jimmy Kimmel joined many other celebrities in honoring Bryant.
The former Laker was traveling in his private helicopter when it came down in the Calabasas area of California, it reportedly crashed and caught on fire, killing all onboard.
Kobe was 41-years-old, and his daughter Gianni was only 13. The other occupants have been identified as John Altobelli, 56, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester,45, Payton Chester, 13, Christina Mauser, and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.
Tributes have flooded in from sports legends, both former and current. Many in the entertainment business have also found ways to honor the basketball hero.
Jimmy Kimmel announced at the start of his show that there would be no studio audience, “because going forward with a comedy show didn’t feel right,” he explained. The show was to have no guests and was devoted to the memory of Kobe Bryant.
A visibly emotional Kimmel began his tribute by describing Bryant as being, “so strong and handsome and smart and energetic.”
Kimmel described how Lakers’ fans saw Kobe as a hero like Superman, “he was so big, he was like a fictional character, with his own costume and everything,” he explained, “he always showed up to save the day.”
Jimmy Kimmel Live, which is broadcast from Los Angeles, has had Bryant on the show no less than 15 times. Kimmel pointed out that Bryant had only played for two teams in his whole career, the Lakers and the US Olympic team. He spoke of the love that was felt between the city and the player.
“We also loved him because he was ours,” said Kimmel.
An equally emotional DeGeneres struggled to hold back tears as she spoke about the fragility of life.
“Yesterday was supposed to be a celebratory day, and then we got the tragic news about Kobe Bryant,” she said. (Yesterday had been the chat show host’s birthday.)
She went on to encourage her viewers to “celebrate life” and to tell someone they know that they love them. “Be nice to the people at the DMV, they’re people,” she joked to a laughing audience.
She finished by telling her audience how much she loved and appreciated them, before introducing a visibly upset Stephen tWitch Boss.
More than ever, I’m grateful for every day. pic.twitter.com/vMEtDUG7ds
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 28, 2020
Fallon started his tribute by describing Bryant as “such a lifeforce, so strong, and creative, and inspired, that I thought he would live forever.”
He told a story of how the two had met at a party years previously when Fallon was just 21, and Bryant was only 17. The pair had been tasked with going on a beer run, and thanks to Bryant’s celebrity, they were able to quickly and easily pick up fives cases of beer, thereby saving the party.
Fallon burst into tears when he explained that he and Bryant would always speak of that night whenever they met. He finished his tribute by urging others to follow Bryant’s example of hard work and dedication.
Rest in peace Kobe Bryant.