Staples Center Only Lights Up Kobe Bryant's Jerseys and More Ways the GRAMMYs Pay Tribute to NBA Star
By Antoinette Bueno
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The 2020 GRAMMYs is paying tribute to the late Kobe Bryant as news of the NBA legend's death on Sunday continues to shock the world.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, both died after they were involved in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday. TMZ reports the two were on their way to the Mamba Academy near Thousand Oaks, California, when the crash occurred. According to the L.A. County Sheriff's Office, there were nine people on the helicopter -- a pilot and eight passengers. There were no survivors.
As tributes from fellow basketball icons and celebrities poured in on Sunday expressing shock and sadness, 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 games as part of the Los Angeles Lakers. 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."
On Sunday at 1 p.m., the Staples Center lit up Bryant's jerseys -- both his number 8 and number 24 versions -- and left all other jerseys dark.
A Recording Academy representative confirmed to Billboard that producers are "working quickly" to add a tribute during the ceremony to Bryant. Deadline reports that the tribute will take place within minutes of the show's opening with host Alicia Keys involved.
ET also spoke to Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus ahead of the GRAMMYs, and Cyrus said he plans to pay tribute to Bryant during their 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," he 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."
Meanwhile, Bryant's fans have been gathering around the Staples Center to honor him, leaving flowers and also donning Lakers gear. The digital billboard outside the Staples Center featured Bryant's image with an "In loving memory" tribute post.
"He was always a real cool dude," Ross, who's nominated for Best Rap Song, told ET. "He always showed me love and it was always genuine. You know, I was a fan of his game and it’s just real unfortunate."
Ross also revealed that if he wins tonight, he will dedicate it to Bryant.
"We got to celebrate Kobe’s history and I think that’s what a true champion would want," he said.