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Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon and More TV Hosts Pay Tribute to Kobe Bryant After His Untimely Death

Kobe Bryant’s spirit shines on. Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and more TV hosts dedicated monologues to the NBA legend after his untimely death on Sunday, January 26.

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DeGeneres, who turned 62 on Sunday, started off the taping of the Tuesday, January 28, episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show by tearfully reminding her studio audience that “life is short and it’s fragile, and we don’t know how many birthdays we have.” She then urged viewers to “tell people you love them, call your friends, text your friends, hug ‘em, kiss ‘em” before it’s too late.

“I know that I’m lucky to have a wife [Portia de Rossi] who loves me so much, even though I don’t have a Grammy,” the comedian joked, referencing her comedy album Relatable losing at Sunday’s awards ceremony. “I get to come to work every single day with people who make me laugh. I love everybody I work with.”

Fallon, 45, delivered his tribute at the end of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday, January 27, and shared a story about the first time he met Bryant at a party in Los Angeles.

“He was 17 and I was 21. He was a rookie on the Lakers, and I was just starting out in the comedy scene,” he recalled. “We didn’t know anyone at the party, so we just started talking. I said, ‘Hey, what do you do?’ He goes, ‘I play basketball.’ I go, ‘Where?’ and he goes, ‘For the Lakers.’ I go, ‘Wow.’”

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Ellen DeGeneres, Kobe Bryant, and Jimmy Fallon Michael Rozman/Warner Bros; Kevork Djansezian/AP/Shutterstock; Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

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The Saturday Night Live alum explained that the man who threw the party asked if anyone could make a beer run, so Fallon and Bryant got in the car and drove to a nearby store. When they arrived, they realized that the store only delivered and the door was locked. An employee would not let them in, so the athlete held his ID up to the window and said, “I’m a Laker.”

“The guy opened the door and we walked out with five cases of beer and we saved the party,” Fallon said.

The NBC personality choked up as he told viewers how he and Bryant would “run into each other over the years [and] laugh about that night” when they met.

“We’d laugh about how much fun it is to raise kids and all the stupid mistakes we made trying to figure out how to be good dads,” he continued. “Kobe had four daughters and I have two daughters. And today, he and one of his girls are gone. … Kobe, when we meet again, we’re going on a beer run.”

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Kimmel, meanwhile, filmed Monday’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! without a studio audience “because going forward with a comedy show didn’t feel right considering what happened yesterday.”

“Kobe was a hero in the way Superman is a hero,” the ABC personality, 52, explained. “He was so big, it was almost like he was a fictional character. He was a real-life superhero — with a costume and everything — walking amongst us.”

Kimmel told viewers that Bryant not only “checked in with [him] repeatedly” after his son Billy’s heart surgery but also “made a point, once Billy was out of the hospital, to meet him.” At the end of his monologue, Kimmel said, “He was a bright light, and that’s how I want to remember him.”

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Over on TBS, Conan O’Brien remembered the retired basketball player as a “very funny and charming” Conan guest who “always had the audience in the palm of his hand.” James Corden, meanwhile, said on CBS’ The Late Late Show With James Corden that the “unspeakably sad” news did not “feel real” to him.

Bryant died at the age of 41 on Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in the Calabasas neighborhood of L.A. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was among the eight other victims.

The Oscar winner and his wife, Vanessa Bryant, also shared daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

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