LOS ANGELES (CBS SF/AP) — The festive mood on the Grammys Red Carpet turned somber Sunday, as the music industry greats gathered while across the street from the Staples Center, a crowd swelling into the thousands had gathered to mourn the tragic death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.
KPIX 5’s Betty Yu gathered the stars emotional response including Motown great Smokey Robinson who fought back tears as he talked with her and other reporters.READ MORE: 2 Arrests Made In Pittsburg Shooting That Killed 19-Year-Old Antioch Man
“As a dad myself, to think that his daughter was there with him and there was nothing he could do for her,” he said. “My god.”
From the red carpet the emotions streamed over to the main stage as sadness loomed over music’s biggest night at the very arena where Bryant played for 20 years for the city’s NBA team.
Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash earlier in the day was acknowledged in the opening minutes of the Grammys broadcast. Before her performance, Lizzo said, “This is for Kobe.” She went on to perform “Truth Hurts” and “Cuz I Love You.”
Host Alicia Keys said she was feeling “crazy sad” about Bryant. She was joined on stage with Boyz II Men, who collectively sang “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
“The whole wide world lost a hero,” the singer said in front of the audience. “We are standing her literally heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in the crash on a steep hillside in dense morning fog in Southern California. He was 41 and had retired from the Lakers in 2016.
Some shed tears for Bryant on the red carpet. Others were almost speechless ahead of the 62nd annual awards show.
Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time champion. Debbie Allen, who is married to former Laker Norm Nixon, was seen crying.
DJ Khaled said the news about Bryant’s death was “devastating.” He took part in a tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle that also included John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG. They performed “Letter to Nipsey” and “Higher.”
At the end of the performance, each performer turned around and pointed toward a screen with a picture of Hussle and Bryant. The tribute prompted a standing ovation that lasted for more than a minute.READ MORE: Hawaii To Ease Testing Rules For Vaccinated Travelers From California, U.S. Mainland
“Long live Nip. Long live Kobe Bryant. Long live Gianna. The marathon continues,” Khaled said.
Tyler, the Creator said he went through different emotions.
“The news was heavy, especially being in LA and being near the Staples Center within a short period of time between him and Nipsey,” he said backstage after winning best rap album. Hussle, who was known for being a huge Lakers fan, was shot and killed 10 months ago in Los Angeles.
“If you’re from Los Angeles, depending on which sector you’re in, that (expletive) is really heavy,” the rapper continued. “We took an L tonight. Rest in peace to Kobe. We also took a win just being from Los Angeles. It’s mixed emotions.”
Cyrus had No. 24, Bryant’s number, on his guitar, and Lil Nas X had a Bryant jersey draped over a chair at the beginning of their performance of “Old Town Road.”
Run-DMC member Joseph “Run” Simmons held up a white Bryant Jersey during the group’s performance of “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith.
Ross remembered a brief conversation he had with Bryant that involved him admiring the NBA star’s craft. The rapper said the game would miss him.
“It’s just a huge loss to the game,” Ross said on the red carpet. “He was a great example on a lot of different stages.”
Singer Charlie Wilson called Bryant a “beautiful soul” and “one of the greatest who played the game.”
Hit-Boy, who won a Grammy with Hussle and Roddy Ricch for best rap performance for “Racks in the Middle,” said he was not going to attend the awards when he learned about Bryant’s death. But the producer said he decided to stick it out in deference to several relatives who were joining him.
“I was two seconds away from just canceling everything,” Hit-Boy said.MORE NEWS: Hundreds Of Local Child Care Providers March For Higher Wages
Outside Staples Center, fans wearing Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys flocked to the arena to show their respect for the Laker legend. A few hundred people gathered at L.A. Live in front of a mega screen with a smiling Bryant that read, “In Loving Memory of KOBE BRYANT 1978-2020”