“We were all freaking out because obviously hearing the news about Kobe and his daughter was so tragic, and none of us can still believe it right now, to this day,” the “Underdog” singer, 39, said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday, January 29. “I think that it was definitely a crazy feeling because, literally minutes before, we were going to do something else. And we had to really figure out how can we properly honor him in his house on this night [with] everybody who adores him and loves him so much and has been inspired by him and felt so devastated in that moment.”
Keys hosted the 62nd annual ceremony at the Los Angeles Lakers’ home venue, Staples Center, hours after the NBA legend, Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash.
“I was literally backstage. I put on my meditation music. I, like, just was thinking, and I called some of my closest people that helped me really find the truth in the moment,” the former The Voice coach told Ellen DeGeneres about her preparation for the night. “It just so happened Boyz II Men was there already that night, and we wanted to do something special, create just something that felt like it was the right thing. And we pulled it together and it was just beautiful. It was like that magic that happens when it’s necessary.”
Keys and Boyz II Men paid tribute to the 41-year-old basketball star with an a cappella rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” moments after the Grammys kicked off. Staples Center also remembered Bryant by illuminating his jerseys in the rafters during the show.
“It was so much, but I was very honored to be able to share that moment with all of us, with the entire world, that we together could go through something that hurt so bad,” the pianist told DeGeneres, 62.
Bryant is survived by his wife of 18 years, Vanessa Bryant, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
“Kobe was an incredibly hands-on dad,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively on Tuesday, January 28. “His daughters and Vanessa were his world. The entire family is gutted without Kobe and Gigi.”
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