The basketball icon was featured in the In Memoriam segment during the ceremony. As Billie Eilish and her brother and collaborator, Finneas O'Connell, sang The Beatles' "Yesterday," Bryant's name was the first to be shown on screen. A photo of Bryant smiling and holding the Oscar he won in 2018 was shown alongside his quote, "Life is too short to be bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going."
The emotional tribute also remembered a number of other past Oscar nominees, including Kirk Douglas, the legendary producer of Chinatown and The Godfather, Robert Evans, screenwriter Buck Henry -- best known for penning The Graduate and Catch-22 -- Cross Creek and Men in Black star Rip Torn, Blade Runner star Rutger Hauer, French documentarian and Faces Places director Agnes Varda, as well as Pillow Talk actress and singer Doris Day.
Celebrated filmmaker John Singleton was also honored in the emotional video package. Singleton -- who died on April 28 at the age of 51 after suffering a stroke -- made Oscars history in 1992 when he became both the first African American filmmaker and the youngest person ever to be nominated for Best Director at the Oscars for his film, Boyz n the Hood. His work in the groundbreaking drama also earned him a nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Among the many other actors whose lives and legacies were fondly remembered were Robert Forster, comedy icon Tim Conway, Monty Python's Terry Jones, Danny Aiello, Diahann Carroll, Peggy Lipton and Peter Mayhew, among many others.
During a press conference with Oscars producers on Wednesday, producer Stephanie Allain talked about including a tribute to Bryant during the ceremony.
"I think the In Memoriam segment has always been an important part of the show and this year is no different in that we're honoring all of our community that we've lost in that section," she said.
She also noted Bryant's connection to the Academy. He won the Best Animated Short Oscar in 2018 for his autobiographical short, Dear Basketball, which he wrote and narrated to pay homage to his love for the game upon retiring after 20 years in the NBA. The win made him the first African American to win an Oscar in that category, and the first professional athlete ever to be nominated and win an Oscar in any category at all.
"I think what's really appropriate is that Kobe was part of the film community, and as such, he will be embraced within the In Memoriam segment," Allain said.
"They doubted a kid could make it in the NBA and he proved them wrong," the caption read. "They doubted he could win a championship and he proved them wrong. They doubted he could make movies and he won an Oscar. Like all great artists, Kobe Bryant proved the doubters wrong. Rest in peace."
"There were conversations about possibly having the ceremony at the LA Coliseum to fit more people, but ultimately the Staples Center made the most sense as it was such a big part of Kobe's life," a source told ET about the upcoming memorial. "The date being the 24th was a decision to coincide with his jersey number as well. The day will be a way for L.A. to celebrate a man that meant so much to the city."