The death of basketball star Kobe Bryant shocked the world on Sunday and devastated fans. Just a few hours after the news broke, members of the entertainment community came together for the 2020 Grammy Awards.
Given the recent tragedy, the night was anything but business as usual; the Grammys’ untelevised pre-ceremony began with a moment of silence for the fallen athlete, with Interim Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. telling attendees at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, the home of Bryant’s former team the Los Angeles Lakers, “As most of you may know, we lost Kobe Bryant in a tragic helicopter accident today. Since we are in his house, I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence.”
Some celebrities used their red carpet moment to speak out about Bryant’s death, among them Diplo, Smokey Robinson, H.E.R., DJ Khaled, Trevor Noah, and Common. The Jonas Brothers chose a sartorial tribute, reportedly wearing purple ribbons to honor him. Priyanka Chopra sketched Bryant’s jersey number, “24,” on one of her nails.
Diplo commented on the resonance of the Grammys being held at the Staples Center, telling E! host Ryan Seacrest: “To be here at Staples right now and to look up and you see his jersey up there,” he said, “you just feel the energy because we’re doing the Grammys right here, but 82 games a year they’re playing in the stadium and in this arena, and Kobe brought this energy to Los Angeles for 20 years. This is his backyard. This is his home.”
Robinson also spoke to Seacrest on the red carpet before the Grammys, saying, “I just hope that we can celebrate. I know it’s going to be somber, somewhat, but I just want us to celebrate. That’s what we had planned before any of this happened.” The Jonas Brothers skipped interviews and wore purple ribbons on the red carpet in honor of Bryant, and Lizzo opened the show by saying, “This is for Kobe.” Host Alicia Keys referred to the Staples Center as “the house that Kobe built,” and dedicated a song of her own to Bryant’s memory.
According to Billboard, the Grammys ceremony will feature a tribute to the basketball legend.
The scene at the Staples Center on Sunday evening was an unusual blend; even as musical stars were trickling in to the Grammy Awards, mourners were gathering outside because, as one fan told a KTLA reporter, “they didn’t know where else to go.”