Jimmy Kimmel filmed a tearful Kobe Bryant tribute show
If you watched even a half hour of Sportcenter’s brilliant, freehearted coverage of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others, it was hard not to have been blown away from the stories those told about the Lakers icon.
As those who knew him well told those who hardly did: This was a man far removed from the all-hustle work ethic that made him a star. After his retirement from the NBA, he was different: Softer, even more curious, family-focused. But of all those who had to stand in front of a camera and pay tribute to Bryant through tears over the past two days, Jimmy Kimmel might have captured this the best.
On Monday night, when Kimmel opened his show (which films in LA), clearly heartbroken, he said, “We don’t have a studio audience here tonight because going forward with a comedy show didn’t feel right considering what happened yesterday. So I’d like to just speak to you directly,”
Before cutting to an over 30-minute-long tribute featuring clips from Bryant’s 15 appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kimmel, trying to hold back tears, told the story of how the Lakers star checked in repeatedly—and later met with—his son, Billy, when he had heart surgery.
“I can’t imagine how much they are missed,” Kimmel said shortly after the story. “This was a terrible loss for those families, and for the Lakers, for Kobe’s teammates, for his fans. There’s no silver lining here, it’s just awful… It’s all bad. It’s all sad. He was a bright light, and that’s how I want to remember him.”
Here’s how Kimmel’s fellow late night hosts remembered the late Lakers legend, his daughter, Gianna, and those who died in this tragedy.
Conan O'Brien looked back on some of his favorite moments from when Bryant was on his show, the two cracking up while talking about In-N-Out Burger and Kobe's intense-as-hell game face.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Fallon opened his show with a lighthearted story, recalling the time he made a beer run with the then-17-year-old Laker, who used his purple-and-gold bonafides to save a party.
Sportscenter with Scott Van Pelt
On the night of the helicopter crash, Scott Van Pelt turned his show into a Bryant tribute—hosting people who knew him, like Stephen A. Smith, to talk about his legacy.
Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen
Cohen hosted sports journalist and The Atlantic contributor Jemele Hill, who told the story of when Bryant disagreed with comments she made about the death of Trayvon Martin. Hill said Bryant reached out to her, and they had "a beautiful, hour-long conversation where he saw my perspective; I saw his perspective."
The Late Late Show with James Corden
Corden recalled how Bryant impacted him even when he was far away in Britain, saying, "There are some athletes that transcend their sports before you ever get a chance to see them play—and Kobe Bryant was one of those athletes."