Devoted father, Los Angeles Lakers legend and Oscar winner Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday morning, as were his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven other passengers. The five-time NBA champion was 41 years old.
Bryant was larger than life, and his sudden, tragic death sent out powerful shockwaves that shook more than just the sports world. Late night set time aside on Monday to pay heartfelt tribute to Bryant, remembering the friend and funnyman he was off the court.
Take a look below.
Jimmy Kimmel, who had Bryant on his show a whopping 15 times, dismissed his studio audience and dedicated Monday night’s entire episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! to memorializing Bryant. The host begins by speaking openly and emotionally about Bryant, recalling their relationship over the years and attempting to reckon with the athlete’s legacy in its totality, at one point nearly breaking down in tears. The remainder of the 40-minute video above consists of various clips of Kobe on Kimmel, from their last conversation together to as far back as the Lakers’ 2010 championship (when Bryant was Finals MVP). Kimmel concludes by inviting viewers to contribute to Bryant’s foundation and rolling a clip of Kobe highlights set to Foo Fighters’ “My Hero.”
Conan O’Brien’s episode-opening tribute to Bryant speaks to the athlete’s connection to Los Angeles and his on-court accomplishments, but focuses mainly on his sense of humor: “He was naturally very funny and charming. ... Terrific guest. And a superstar does not have to be a great guest, and he just was,” says O’Brien. “Whenever he was on our show, he was a joy to talk with, and he always had the audience in the palm of his hand. That’s the guy that I’ve been thinking about these past 24 hours, and it’s that memory that I would like to share with you tonight.” The ensuing clips recall Kobe explaining his game face, cursing in Italian, and masterfully roasting Phil Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal, much to O’Brien’s delight.
Jimmy Fallon memorializes Bryant as “such a life force, so strong and creative and inspired, that in my head, I thought that he was gonna live forever.” The Tonight Show host tells the story of how he met the 17-year-old Laker at a party and went on a beer run with him, of all things, crying as he recalls the conversations he and Bryant had over the years to follow. “Kobe, when we meet again, we’re going on a beer run,” Fallon sweetly concludes.
James Corden speaks to the surreality of Bryant’s death, saying, “It’s so unspeakably sad,” and offering his perspective as someone who grew up in the U.K.: “There are some athletes that transcend their sport … and Kobe Bryant was one of those athletes.” The host remembers a newly retired Bryant who was looking ahead to his newfound free time when he last appeared on The Late Late Show, offering his condolences to the other families impacted by the crash and urging viewers to take every opportunity to tell their loved ones they love them.