The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards started on a somber note Sunday evening (Jan. 26), with the tragic news of NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s death. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed Sunday afternoon (Jan. 26) in a helicopter crash in Calabazas, CA.
Grammys host Alicia Keys altered the ceremony’s opening performance to pay tribute to the 41-year-old former basketball player.
“Here we are together, on music’s biggest night, celebrating the artists that do it best,” she addressed the Los Angeles Staples Center crowd. “But to be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now, because earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero, and we’re literally standing here, heartbroken, in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
“Right now, Kobe and his daughter Gianna and all the others that have been tragically lost today are in our spirits, they’re in our hearts, they’re in our prayers, they’re in this building,” she continued. “I would like to ask everybody to take a moment to hold them inside of you.”
Keys later welcomed Boyz II Men to the Grammy stage, where she performed a soulful rendition of “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” with the mega group, as a touching tribute to Bryant.
“We’re celebrating this music because I know how much Kobe loved music,” she said. “So, we’ve got to make this a celebration in his honor. He would want us to keep the vibrations high. Music is that one language that we all speak, we all understand it.”
Keys finished her show introduction with a short song she wrote about the Grammy nominees, which she performed at the piano.
Celebrities, winners and nominees alike mourned the tragic loss of Bryant at the ceremony. Several artists reportedly canceled their scheduled red carpet interviews due to the shocking news and even more took to social media to honor the late athlete.