Alicia Keys Reveals How Grammys Kobe Bryant Tribute Came Together At The Last Minute

Faced with the monumental task of honoring Kobe Bryant at the Grammys, Alicia Keyes revealed that the show’s tribute came together at the last minute thanks to the ‘magic that happens when it’s necessary.’

“We were all freaking out, because obviously, hearing the news about Kobe [Bryant] and his daughter [Gianna], was so tragic and none of us can still believe it right now to this day,” Alicia Keys, host of the 2020 Grammy Awards, said during the Jan. 29 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Alicia, 39, revealed how Kobe’s death, taking place mere hours before the Grammys, sent shockwaves through the awards show — especially since the event took place at the Staples Center, where Kobe spend his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. “I think that it was definitely a crazy feeling because literally minutes before, we were going to do something else. And we had to really figure out how could we properly honor him in his house, on this night, and everybody who adores him, and loves him so much and has been inspired by him and felt so devastated in that moment, we couldn’t – we had to properly do that.”

“I was literally backstage. I put on my meditation music. I was just thinking, and I called some of my closest people that help me really find the truth in the moment,” Alicia told Ellen DeGeneres. “It just so happened Boyz II Men was there already that night, and we wanted to do something special, create just something that felt like it was the right thing. We pulled it together, and it was just beautiful. It was like that magic that happens when it’s necessary.” It all worked out, with Alicia joining Boyz II Men to perform “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”

“Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best,” Alicia said during the opening moments of the Grammys. “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. We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built. Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, and all of those that have been tragically lost today are in our spirit, in our hearts, and in our prayers. They’re in this building. … We never imagined in a million years we’d have to start the show like this.”

The love for Kobe was all over the 2020 Grammys. Lizzo dedicated her performance – and the night – to Kobe. Lil Nas X began his epic “Old Town Road” performance in a room that had a classic Kobe Lakers jersey draped over a chair. The all-star tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle – featuring Meek Mill, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, YG, and Roddy Ricch – also paid respect to Kobe.

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