“K why @MTV not put @KobeBryant in [their] tribute may everyone Rest In Peace but where’s my mans kobe?” one fan tweeted during the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 30. During the show’s “In Memoriam” segment, MTV celebrated those lost over the past year, including Juice WRLD, Pop Smoke, and others. Introduced by Travis Barker, who noted that the segment would also honor “other brilliant artists,” the tribute also celebrated the lives of Naya Rivera and Chadwick Boseman, the latter of which died mere days before the VMAs. Yet, Kobe and his daughter Gianna Bryant — who died on Jan. 26 — were nowhere to be found in the segment, which left many seeing red.
“Who at the #VMAs forgot to include Kobe Bryant in the In Memoriam section?!? You added Naya and Chadwick, you weren’t sticking to just music,” one fan tweeted. “How DARE you guys Not pay tribute to KOBE BRYANT!!!! He is an Academy Award winner and Legend!!! And you choose to leave him out of your 2020 tribute! #BoycottVMAs #VMAs.” “Um, how does @MTV not mention Kobe Bryant when showing everyone who we lost this year? #MambaForever” “wait what… @MTV did you completely forget that Kobe passed away this year???? are you f’cking serious?”
Kobe’s exclusion is also odd considering that he was, at one point, a fledgling rapper. Kobe signed a deal with Sony Records in 1999, according to the Los Angeles Times, after appearing on a remix of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.” He also contributed to Brian McKnight’s “Hold Me” in 1997, and teamed up with his Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal on 1998’s “3X’s Dope.” Kobe would release his debut single, “K.O.B.E.” (which featured Tyra Banks) during the 2000 All-Star game. It was received so poorly that his album, Visions, was scrubbed. He was released from Sony shortly afterward, and he stayed away from music, save for a 2011 Taiwanese Sprite commercial. So, while Kobe didn’t have a prolific music video career like Shaq (“I’m Outstanding” “What’s Up Doc? Can We Rock)” “(I Know I Got) Skillz”), there’s still a case to make for Kobe’s inclusion in the music world.
Outside of the Kobe controversy, the 2020 MTV VMAs will likely be remembered as a night belonging to Lady Gaga. She took home five awards – Best Cinematography, Best Collaboration, Best Song, and Artist of the Year – including the first-ever “Tricon” award. During the event, she wore six different masks (and a plastic space bubble, which is kind of a mask?). This has not been an easy year for a lot of people, but what I see in the world is a massive triumph of courage,” she said when accepting the Tricon award.