Wyclef Jean cited the late NBA legend's work ethic as one of his most admirable traits

By Jodi Guglielmi
January 26, 2020 07:20 PM

Wyclef Jean is struggling to come to terms with the sudden death of Kobe Bryant.

The rapper, 50, took a moment to remember his late friend while walking the red carpet at the 2020 Grammy Awards, admitting he was still at a loss for words.

“You feel like a hammer hit your heart,” he tells PEOPLE. “This is someone, personally, I’ve known and spoken to on the phone. You meet this guy and he’s the most incredible, nicest teddy bear.”

Jean said Bryant’s legacy as both a family man and an NBA star will live on and serve as an “example” for others.

“[He was] an example to all of us — an idea of how you’re supposed to be with your family and how you’re supposed to be with your kids. It’s like, you’re still trying to process it. There’s really no words for it. There’s no words for it, man,” he said. “One of the flyest dudes, and … he knows he’s beyond talented, but his whole thing is he’s going to perform as if he’s working hard, as if he has no talent. So he takes it beyond the extreme. That’s how he teaches us to do anything in life.”

Nicholas Hunt/Getty; Allen Berezovsky/Getty

Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Grammy Awards coverage to get the latest news on music’s biggest night.

The former NBA star, 41, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas Sunday morning. A source confirmed the death to PEOPLE.

He was reportedly traveling in his private helicopter when it went down, according to TMZ. A rep for Bryant also confirmed to TMZ that his daughter Gianna, 13, was killed in the crash.

Emergency personnel responded but none of the nine people onboard survived, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said during a press conference.

RELATED: Kobe Bryant Dies in Calabasas Helicopter Crash at 41

Allen Berezovsky/Getty

Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and three of their four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

PeopleTV’s PEOPLE Now host Jeremy Parsons, PEOPLE Senior Editor Janine Rubenstein and Entertainment Weekly Senior News Editor Gerrad Hall are co-hosting a live red carpet pre-show ahead of the awards ceremony. Catch the full livestream above at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT or on PEOPLE’s Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also watch on the PeopleTV app, available on all of your favorite streaming devices.

Advertisement