The 2020 Grammy Awards began with a tribute to Kobe Bryant, who died hours before the ceremony, on Sunday night at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, which was home to the basketball legend for nearly 20 years.
Lizzo, the most-nominated artist heading into the ceremony, kicked off the award show with a medley of hits from her album “Cuz I Love You.” But before she launched into the performance, she told the crowd, “Tonight is for Kobe.”
Ahead of the ceremony, a Billboard report claimed that producers were “working quickly” to somehow honor the athlete on stage.
Bryant’s helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California, on Sunday morning. The retired NBA star and eight others onboard, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, perished in the accident, multiple reports confirmed. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
At the premiere ceremony ahead of the 62nd annual telecast, Recording Academy interim chief Harvey Mason Jr. held a moment of silence in honor of the Los Angeles Lakers star.
“As most of you may know, we lost Kobe Bryant in a tragic helicopter earlier today,” he said. “Since we are in his house, I ask you to join me in a moment of silence.”
Mourners almost immediately gravitated toward the arena after news of Bryant’s death broke, with crowds gathering outside at the plaza across the street to memorialize the sports giant.
The jumbotron screen outside the area was also changed to the read “In loving memory of Kobe Bryant” alongside an image of the basketball player.
Earlier in the day, members of the music community, including John Legend, Bruno Mars, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber, remembered Bryant.
“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,” Legend wrote. “Life can be so brutal and senseless sometimes. Hold on to your loved ones. We miss you, Kobe.”