The former Los Angeles Lakers player and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning, with the awards show quickly putting together a tribute to the NBA legend. As show-opener Lizzo declared at the top of her performance, "Tonight is for Kobe."
GRAMMY Awards host Alicia Keys then took the stage. "Here we are together on music's biggest night, celebrating the artists that do it best. 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," Keys said.
"Right now, Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, and all of those that have been tragically lost today, they're in our spirit... our prayers. They're in this building. And I would like to ask everyone to take a moment and hold them inside of you and share our strength and our support with their families."
Keys remarked that she and the GRAMMYs team never thought they'd have to start the show like this. "So we wanted to do something that could describe a tiny bit of how we all feel right now," she said, before bringing out Boyz II Men to sing a heartfelt goodbye to the Lakers legend.
"We're going to sing together... we're going to cry together," Keys said. "We're going to make sure that we are celebrating the most powerful energy, the most beautiful thing in the entire world... music."
Key's husband, Swizz Beatz, was friends with Bryant and took to Instagram on Sunday afternoon to share a touching tribute.
"? Sending ultra love to the family of the great @kobebryant & Gigi ?? This hurts bad :(," he wrote.
The GRAMMY Awards pre-telecast ceremony opened with a moment of silence for Bryant, especially considering that the GRAMMYs are being held at the Staples Center where Bryant played countless Lakers games. Interim Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said, "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."
While speaking with ET on the red carpet ahead of the show, Billy Ray Cyrus said he had plans to pay tribute to Bryant during his and Lil Nas X's scheduled "Old Town Road All-Stars" performance alongside current nominees BTS, Diplo, Mason Ramsey and more.
"I got something I wrote on my guitar," he said. "I got a little Kobe going out on stage with me today. And being here in the center of Los Angeles, Los Angeles has had so many greats. It’s hard to rank up at the top with Kobe Bryant. And his daughter. It’s heartbreaking."
"You can probably tell I’m a little swollen," Cyrus added about how he's taking the news of Bryant's death. "When I’m not on camera, I’m crying. My whole family is. We can't stop crying. Kobe was such a great man. ... Not only was he a legend in sports, he was a legend as a man, a father. A great role model. It’s a very sad, tragic day and bittersweet for all of us at the GRAMMYs."