Usher performed an emotional rendition of “Amazing Grace” as the Los Angeles Lakers honored Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the victims of the tragic helicopter crash. Friday’s game at Los Angeles’ Staples Center marked the Lakers’ first since Bryant’s death on January 26th.
The singer’s performance was accompanied by a video showing how fans, fellow basketball players and athletes across sports and across the world mourned the Lakers legend, who was among nine killed in the crash outside Calabasas, California.
Following Usher’s performance, the Lakers played a six-minute tribute video to Bryant highlighting his career accomplishments with voiceover provided by the basketball legend. Los Angeles Philharmonic cellist Ben Hong accompanied the video live at center court.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 1, 2020
Boyz II Men, who were also on hand at the Staples Center Sunday for the Grammys’ last-minute tribute to Bryant, delivered the National Anthem at Friday’s game.
The Lakers’ LeBron James then closed out the ceremony with an impromptu speech honoring the Lakers legend in “the House that Kobe built.”
“Tonight we celebrate the kid that came here at 18, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we’ve seen over the last three years,” an emotional James said. “So in the words of Kobe Bryant, ‘Mamba Out,’ but in the words of us, ‘Not forgotten.’ Live on brother.”
The tribute to the victims of the January 26th crash continued at halftime as Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth delivered “See You Again,” their 2015 hit saluting late actor Paul Walker, for the Staples Center crowd; since Bryant’s death, the song has become an unofficial anthem honoring the Lakers star, with many YouTube videos over the past week using “See You Again” as the soundtrack for highlights packages dedicated to Bryant.
“To the late Kobe Bryant,” Khalifa said during the performance. “Peace and blessing to his entire family. His legacy is gonna be remembered. We love you Kobe.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist and diehard Lakers fan Flea, who penned an ode to Bryant upon his retirement in 2016 and performed the National Anthem at Kobe’s last home game, attended Friday’s game and honored Bryant and Gianna with an airbrushed shirt that featured prominently courtside during the broadcast: