Hours before the Grammys, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.
His passing was on the minds of many at the star-studded ceremony.
Grammy-nominated singer Lizzo opened up the show by singing her hit song “Cuz I Love You.” She paid tribute to Kobe, saying, “This one’s for Kobe.”
After the performance, host Alicia Keys took the stage, where she acknowledged Bryant’s shocking death. Alicia said, “Earlier today, Los Angeles, America, and the whole wide world lost a hero. And we’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house [Staples Center] that Kobe Bryant built.”
“We never imagined in a million years we’d have to start the show like this,” Keys continued. “So we wanted to do something that could describe, a tiny bit, how we all feel right now.”
Keys were eventually joined by stage by Boyz II Men as they sang “It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
After the tribute, Alicia also acknowledged Kobe while performing a song about the Grammys. She said, “I know how much Kobe loved music.”
Before the show, Grammys executive producer Kenneth Ehrlich addressed the attendees, noting that there would a tribute “in the house of Kobe,” and asking the crowd to “please be quiet.”
In the pre-show, there was also a brief moment for Kobe, led by Interim Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr., who said, “Since we are in his house, I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence.”
After news of his death, a photo of a smiling Kobe appeared on the Jumbotron outside of the venue.
Kobe was a notable figure at the Staples Center, playing for the Lakers for two decades. The arena has also been home to the Grammys for the past few years.
Earlier in the day, it was reported that Bryant and his daughter Gianna were on route to the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks for basketball practice when his helicopter went down, according to TMZ.
The Bryants and seven others — including a pilot — were aboard his private helicopter, a mode of transportation he frequently used, when it crashed, bursting into flames on a hill near Kourtney Kardashian's home.
The cause of the crash is not known, but is under investigation.