As the world continues to mourn the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, talk show hosts used their Monday night programs to pay tribute to the late basketball legend.
Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash Sunday, along with seven others. Many hosts forced back tears as they remembered all those who died in the tragedy.
Jimmy Fallon opened his show with a monologue about meeting Bryant for the first time. He was a 21-year-old stand up comedian at the time and Bryant was a 17-year-old rookie for the Lakers. Fallon reminisced about bonding with Bryant at a party and eventually going on a beer run together. When the store wouldn’t sell them alcohol, Bryant flashed his ID and said “I’m a Laker.”
Fallon was on the verge of tears as he remembered catching up with the basketball star over the years.
“Kobe, when we meet again, we’re going on a beer run,” he said.
Jimmy Kimmel dedicated his entire show to Bryant, who appeared on the talk show 15 times. The show was not filmed in front of a studio audience. Instead, Kimmel delivered an emotional monologue before presenting highlights from his interviews with Bryant over the years, including his last interview in September of 2019.
“There’s no silver lining here,” Kimmel said, fighting back tears. “It’s all bad. It’s all sad.”
“He was a bright light,” he added. “And that’s how I want to remember him.”
The hour long show ended with a video montage of Bryant set to an acoustic version of “My Hero” by the Foo Fighters.
Earlier in the day, Ellen also teared up remembering Bryant, who died on her birthday.
“Life is short, and it’s fragile, and we don’t know how many birthdays we have,” she said. “If you haven’t told someone you love them, do it now.”
Conan O’Brien talked about how important Bryant was to Los Angeles, where the show is filmed. He shared highlights from his interview with the late Lakers star.
“Whenever he was on our show, he was a joy to talk with and he always had the audience in the palm of his hands,” he said. “That’s the guy I’ve been thinking about these past 24 hours.”
James Corden said on his show despite the fact basketball was not a “massive part of your life” in his home country of England, “there are some athletes that transcend their sport before you ever get a chance to see them play. And Bryant was one of those athletes.”
Corden also gave condolences to the families of the seven other victims of the crash, “whose loss is no less profound.”
Bryant won five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. He also won the scoring title twice and was the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player. He retired third on the all-time scoring list, a ranking he held until the day before his passing when current Lakers star LeBron James passed him.
With all his accomplishments, Bryant did have some off-court controversy. He was accused of sexual assault in Colorado in 2003 before the criminal case was dropped the next year.