The 39-year-old played Beethoven’s “Piano Sonata No. 14,” popularly known as the “Moonlight Sonata,” after Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka explained to the audience what the significance of the song was.
Pelinka shared that Kobe had once told him that he wanted to learn how to play the classical music piece in an effort to do something romantic for his wife, Vanessa Bryant, after he’d been away from her for a long stretch of time while on the road with work.
One night, Kobe told Pelinka on the phone that he “hadn’t been sleeping much” because he was missing Vanessa and his daughters. He “vowed to teach himself — by ear — to play the first movement of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata.’”
Pelinka said that the next morning, Bryant had nailed the song’s first few measures and, “by the end of the week, he had the entire piece mastered.”
“That moment was one of Kobe’s grandest feats,” Pelinka said.
Keys then brought the song to the stadium, alongside a string quartet, in a heartfelt rendition.
Earlier in the afternoon, Beyoncé also delivered an emotional musical tribute, singing her songs “XO” and “Halo,” telling the Los Angeles crowd of the former: “I’m here because I love Kobe and this was one of his favorite songs.”