Alicia Keys opened the 2020 Grammy Awards on Sunday night with an emotional farewell to Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star who lost his life in a tragic helicopter crash earlier in the day.
“We are all feeling crazy sadness right now,” said the award show’s host, as she stood at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the sports arena where Bryant mesmerized basketball fans for years. “Because earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. And we are literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.
“Right now, Kobe and his daughter Gianna and all of those that have been tragically lost today are in our spirit, they are in our hearts, they are in our prayers, they are in this building.”
As the audience, filled with the biggest music stars on the planet, listened on intently to her words, Keys had a request for both those in attendance and those watching the telecast on CBS.
I would like to ask everybody to take a moment and just hold them inside of you. Hold them inside of you,” she says. “And share our strength and our support with their families.”
This was not, of course, the way that the show was expected to start, with Keys eulogizing Bryant following an opening performance by Lizzo.
“We never imagined in a million years that we would have to start the show like this,” she says. “Never, never, never. So, we wanted to do something that could describe, a tiny bit, how we all feel right now.
That led right in a tender a cappella rendition of Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” performed by Keys and Boyz II Men.