Celebrities took to social media to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant after reports surfaced that the basketball legend died Sunday.
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among those killed when a helicopter slammed into a hillside near Malibu in Los Angeles County, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
News of Bryant’s tragic death came as stars were gearing up for music’s biggest night: the Grammys.
The Grammy Awards are being held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, where Bryant played many home games for the Lakers.
Lizzo opened the awards show announcing “Tonight is for Kobe” before launching into her hits “Cuz I Love You” and “Truth Hurts.”
Grammys host Alicia Keys also acknowledged Bryant in a touching performance of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with Boyz II Men.
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“To be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now. Because earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero,” Keys said. “We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built. … We’re gonna love together and we’re gonna make sure we celebrate the most powerful energy … the one thing that has the power to bring us all together: And that’s music. It’s the most healing thing in the world.”
A somber Ryan Seacrest opened E!’s Grammys red carpet with a tribute to Bryant. “His loss will be felt even more deeply tonight at a place he considered home,” Seacrest told the camera.
“It’s unthinkable,” Seacrest said. “This is a man and a family that we’ve gotten to know over the years. We’ve seen him play here before. He was on the phone with me a few months ago, talking about the love of being a father, talking about his daughters so pridefully, and I think so many artist here tonight will be thinking about this, and wanting to share their stories.”
The news came as a shock to celebrities.
Kevin Hart noted he just saw the NBA legend recently and couldn’t believe the news.
“This honestly doesn’t make sense….I just saw you man. This hurts my heart. God please place your hands on his family and help guide them thru this unbearable time. We love you forever man…Legends never die!!!!” Hart captioned a photo of Bryant. “#MambaMentality #RIP…. RIP to the other passengers as well as sending prayers to their families.”
In another Instagram post, Hart added, “I have no words…All I have is real tears….This is beyond heartbreaking… #prayingforthebryantfamily #RIPGianna #RIPKobe.”
“I cannot believe this is real. My god. Oh my god,” Chrissy Teigen wrote on Twitter. She later followed up with a tweet referencing the Grammys. “Downtown right now and nothing feels more unimportant than what we are doing today. This is absolutely terrible. Everyone is numb,” Teigen wrote.
Teigen’s husband, John Legend, shared the same sentiment, noting that one superstar died while the Grammys were getting prepared to honored another.Get the Entertainment newsletter in your inbox.
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“I’m so sad and stunned right now. In Staples Arena, where Kobe created so many memories for all of us, preparing to pay tribute to another brilliant man we lost too soon, Nipsey Hussle. Life can be so brutal and senseless sometimes. Hold on to your loved ones. We miss you, Kobe,” Legend wrote.
A speechless Will Smith simply shared a throwback photo of himself and Bryant.
“Kobe, We love you brother,” Kanye West tweeted alongside a throwback picture of himself, Bryant, record producer Swizz Beatz and rapper Mos Def all smiles.
West added, “We’re praying for your family and appreciate the life you’ve lived and all the inspiration you gave.”
His wife, Kim Kardashian West said on Instagram, “I cry just thinking about it.”
“My heart is so heavy. No one should ever experience what the families involved are going through,” she wrote. “This has affected us all so much but I cannot begin to imagine what Vanessa is feeling losing her husband and her baby girl… . Rest In Peace Legend.”
Former President Barack Obama sent his condolences to Bryant’s family and his wife, Vanessa, in a touching tweet.
Jennifer Lopez reflected on the importance of family in a lengthy tribute.
“As I scrolled through Kobe’s feed, and Alex and I talk memories and moments we remember about him … this is the truth that rings out the loudest … family is what matters most,” she wrote on Instagram.
“We are all feeling sadness from this loss, but all I can think of is that it is a grain of sand compared to what Vanessa must going through right now.”
Leonardo DiCaprio said “LA will never be the same.”
“Kobe was truly larger than life, a legend,” he tweeted. “May he and all those who lost their lives today rest in peace. Love and condolences to his family.”
Mariah Carey tweeted, “In shock right now. RIP Kobe.”
Julia Roberts added a broken-heart emoji on Instagram.
Paula Abdul, a former cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers who went on to become the choreographer for the famed Laker Girls, paid respects to her “dear friend” on Twitter.
“I am completely speechless and devastated at the unexpected passing of my dear friend, @kobebryant,” Abdul tweeted. “Kobe had a big heart and an even bigger love for the community of Los Angeles. Through his foundation, he changed the lives of so many people and families with his wife, Vanessa.”
“Dreams and Nightmares” rapper Meek Mill was also stunned by the news. “It’s not no telling what you gone wake up to nowadays,” he tweeted.
“My heart is in pieces hearing the news of this unimaginable tragedy. I can’t fathom what the families are going through,” Taylor Swift wrote on Twitter. “Kobe meant so much to me and to us all. Sending my prayers, love, and endless condolences to Vanessa and the family and anyone who lost someone on that flight.”
Justin Bieber shared an old photo of him and Bryant to Instagram and expressed his disbelief.
“It can’t be. You always encouraged me mamba. Gave me some of the best quotes that we smile about to this day.! Love you man!” Bieber captioned the photo.
“This can’t be real there’s no way!!! My heart hurts,” Khloe Kardashian tweeted out.
Ellen DeGeneres said Bryant’s death left her “stunned and saddened.” She added, “Like everyone…My heart is broken for his wife and family.”
Mark Wahlberg shared an Instagram picture of Bryant playfully pinching his son’s cheek while they sat courtside at a Lakers game. He captioned the photo, “RIP.”
Rapper Lil Wayne tweeted, “We lost a King. 824,” referring to both jersey numbers that Bryant wore for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Drake also shared a photo to Instagram of a leather jacket with the words “Farewell Mamba” stitched on the back. He wore the custom jacket in honor of Bryant’s final NBA All-Star game in 2016.
“It can’t be,” he captioned the post.
Pharrell Williams said the “world lost a giant today.”
“Rest In Peace Kobe Bryant,” Williams tweeted. “Also praying for the other passengers that we lost and their families.”
Nick Jonas tweeted, “This is heartbreaking. Rest In Peace Kobe.” Kevin Jonas added on Instagram, “Absolutely heartbreaking. Praying for strength for the entire Bryant family and sending all of you love. Rest In Peace Kobe and Gianna.”
Chris Brown wrote that he’s “DEVASTATED,” sharing a throwback photo of himself giving Kobe a handshake while watching a game. He added, “RIP KING.”
Gigi Hadid, a Los Angeles native, reflected on the impact Bryant had on her childhood, adding that the news is “too much.”
“Growing up a Kobe fan brought so much joy to my life, like so many, and we were all so excited to see sweet Gigi play someday,” she wrote on Instagram.
The supermodel continued, “Rest In Peace and love together, legends. Sending strength and my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Bryant family, and all the families affected by this tragedy.”
“Love is forever,” he wrote.”
Whoopi Goldberg sent her “deepest condolences to his family” on Twitter. She added, “RIP Kobe, hero to many including my grandson, extraordinary athlete and always kind to me & my family.”
Demi Lovato, who is taking the stage at the Grammys for her first live performance in almost two years, shared a touching tribute.
“This makes me so sad. Kobe you were always so sweet to me. Known you over 10 years.. not super well but we always joked about you coming over and playing that game of horse! You will (be) so missed by so many,” she captioned a photo of her and Bryant. “You’re a legend with wings now. RIP Kobe.”
Cher said her heart “Goes Out To Kobe’s Family, Friends, Fans.” She added, “It’s SO HARD To Deal With The Death Of a GREAT STAR, Because We Feel As If We Knew Them Personally. Kobe Bryant Was a GREAT ATHLETE,& All Of America Will Feel His Loss. The (World) Has Lost a Bright Light.”
“Sadly, i never personally knew you, but knowing i’m capable of all these emotions for someone i only knew from a far makes me feel more human than ever,” Kendall Jenner added on Instagram. “You had the magical ability of bringing people together, through sports and through your soul. we feel you so heavily today.”
Kylie Jenner shared a picture of Kobe embracing his daughter Gianna, writing, “at loss for words right now. praying for this beautiful family.”
Kris Jenner shared a photo of the former LA Laker and sent her condolences to his family.
“Devastated by the news of losing our precious Kobe Bryant. Words cannot express our sadness. All my deepest love and prayers are with Vanessa and Kobe’s family at this time.”
Reese Witherspoon tweeted out her condolences to Bryant’s family.
“Just devastated to hear about #KobeBryant. An extraordinary athlete, and a genuinely kind, wonderful man. Sending love, prayers & compassion to his family. To his entire @NBA family as well,” the “Legally Blonde” actress wrote.
Jada Pinkett Smith wrote a reflective message to her Instagram page alongside a photo of Bryant and his daughter. She encouraged everyone to embrace their loved ones.
“Life is so fragile. This is the kind of loss that makes you deeply reflective. My prayers to Vanessa, her children and all of those who love Kobe and Gigi,” she wrote. “This is a hard one. My heart is broken and bleeding everywhere today.”
In an early-morning tweet Monday, Oscar winner Forest Whitaker remembered Bryant’s “passion on and off the court” and how he “inspired millions of people who watched him soar and defy gravity to reach his goals. I send my love and support to Vanessa and the Bryant family. May they be held in God’s Arms.”
Jimmy Kimmel also wrote a tear-jerking message to Bryant.
“He was great, charismatic & among the hardest-working athletes ever, but what impressed me most was how deeply-involved Kobe was with his 4 daughters. Pray for them, Vanessa, his parents & his fellow passengers’ families on this sad and shocking day,” Kimmel tweeted. “We will never forget you Kobe.”
Kimmel added, “So far 2020, you suck.”
Fellow late-night host Trevor Noah expressed his grief on Twitter.
“Jesus this is heartbreaking,” he wrote.