Alicia Keys Opens 2020 Grammys with Kobe Bryant Tribute: He 'Would Want Us to Keep the Vibrations High'

The former NBA player and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning

Hours after Kobe Bryant died, he was honored with an emotional tribute during the music industry’s biggest night.

On Sunday, during the 62nd Grammy Awards, Alicia Keys took a moment at the beginning of the ceremony to honor the former NBA star, 41, who died the morning of the awards show, which is held in Los Angeles’ Staples Center — the arena that is home to the Lakers team that Bryant played for.

“Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best. But to be honest, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now because earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. And we’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built. Right now, Kobe and his daughter Gianna, and all of those that have been tragically lost today are in our spirit. They’re in our hearts and our prayers. They’re in this building”

She then continued by asking people to take a moment and “hold them inside of you.”

Alicia Keys Kobe tribute

“Share our strength and our support with their families,” the R&B singer continued. “We never imagined in a million years we’d have to start the show like this, never never never never never never, so we wanted to do something that could describe a tiny bit how we all feel right now.”

Boys II Men then joined Keys to perform “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” in his honor.

Following the performance, Keys was appreciative of all of the artists in the room banding together through hard times. “We’re going to do what we’re here to do. And know that we’re going to all join together like we do in happy times and challenging times. We’re going to sing together we’re going to laugh together. We’re going to dance together. We’re going to cry together.”

Alicia Keys Kobe tribute
Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men honor Kobe Bryant at the 2020 Grammy Awards. Kevin Winter/Getty

She continued, “We’re going to bring it all together we’re going to love together, and we’re going to make sure that we are celebrating the most powerful energy, the most beautiful thing in the world. The one thing that has the power to bring all of us together. That’s music. It’s the most healing thing in the world.”

Then, before performing a song she created specially for the Grammys on the piano, Keys said, “Kobe would want us to keep the vibrations high.”

Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died in the Calabasas helicopter crash, reps for Bryant told TMZ Sports. Emergency personnel responded, but none of the nine people onboard survived, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said during a press conference.

Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

Gianna Bryant, Kobe Bryant. Allen Berezovsky/Getty

Earlier in the day, there was a moment of silence observed during the un-televised portion of the awards ceremony.

Ahead of the main show, Grammy producers told Billboard they were “working quickly” to add a tribute to Bryant into the ceremony following the news earlier in the day.

Many stars on the Grammys red carpet have paid tribute to the athlete as well, including BJ the Chicago Kid, Wycleff Jean, Rick Ross and Diplo.

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

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant. Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty

Earlier on the red carpet, E! hosts Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic honored Bryant at the start of the show, calling the news “devastating.”

“We are starting the show on a very somber note,” Seacrest, 45, said. “We want to take a moment to say we are deeply saddened by the passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the others aboard the helicopter which tragically crashed today. … His loss will be felt even more deeply tonight at a place he considered home, this, the Staples Center.”

Rancic, 45, gave her condolences to Bryant’s wife, Vanessa.

“My heart is so heavy today, like so many people watching this in the United States but all around the world. And as a mother, as a wife, as a human, my heart goes out to Vanessa and their family tonight, first and foremost,” the mom to 7-year-old Duke said.

The 62nd Grammy Awards are airing live from Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.

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