Kobe Bryant: Grammy Awards, Alicia Keys pay tribute to NBA legend

Alicia Keys has honoured the basketball legend with a moving tribute.
Alicia Keys has honoured the basketball legend with a moving tribute. Photo credit: Instagram / Kobe Bryant; Getty

The Grammy Awards have honoured the late Kobe Bryant with a moment of silence at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, with host Alicia Keys opening the ceremony with a powerful music tribute. 

The iconic venue was acknowledged as the "house" of the NBA legend, who died aged 41 in a helicopter crash just hours before the show on Monday (local time). Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also killed, alongside seven others.

The screens outside the auditorium displayed a memoriam for Bryant as the red carpet took place, the flags flying at half-mast. 

"As most of you know, we lost Kobe Bryant in a tragic helicopter accident today," Interim Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr said at the prestigious ceremony's pre-show.

"Since we are in his house, I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence."

Alicia Keys and R&B group Boyz II Men performed a moving musical tribute, dedicating the band's 1991 hit 'It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday' to the basketball icon.

"[It’s] 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," Keys addressed the crowd. 

Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men performed in honour of the late basketball legend.
Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men performed in honour of the late basketball legend. Photo credit: Getty

"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.

"Kobe and his daughter Gianna, and all those who have been tragically lost today, are in our spirit, are in our hearts, they're in our prayers, they're in this building. I would like to ask everybody to take a moment to hold them inside of you... and share our strength and support with their families. 

"We never thought in a million years that we’d have to start the show like this."

Keys also described the performance as "something that could describe a tiny bit how we all feel right now".

Earlier on Monday (local time), former US President Barack Obama addressed the star's passing on Twitter: "Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act.

"To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."

Numerous high-profile names have shared their sadness and offered their condolences to Bryant's family on social media, including Drake, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Cardi B, Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift.

The 41-year-old's death has sent a shockwave throughout the industry, with basketball heavyweights Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan expressing their grief. LeBron James has been spotted in tears after landing in Los Angeles. 

Bryant and Gianna were believed to be travelling to the 13-year-old's basketball game when the private helicopter crashed near Calabasas, California, killing all nine people onboard. 

Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant, who he married in 2001, and their three daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, three, and Capri, seven-months.