The singer hosted the Grammy awards for the second year in a row hours after Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash

By Claudia Harmata
January 27, 2020 08:50 AM
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Kobe Bryant‘s legacy helped Alicia Keys make it through an emotional Grammy Awards night.

On Sunday, the singer hosted the 62nd Grammy Awards just hours after Kobe Bryant tragically died, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, in a helicopter crash over Calabasas.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight after the show, Keys admitted that the hosting task was not easy.

“This was a really hard night, and that’s why I think it was a roller coaster,” Keys told the outlet. “It was painful, it’s painful right now. We lost a beloved, beloved hero to all of us. A person who is like a true example of brilliance and excellence.”

“It’s not easy to go forward with all of that weight,” she added. “But I think that the energy that he always brought and that fighting spirit is what brought us through tonight.”

The “Girl on Fire” singer opened up the show, which was held in Los Angeles’ Staples Center — the arena that Bryant called home for many years while playing for the L.A. Lakers — with an emotional tribute to honor the NBA legend.

Alicia Keys
| Credit: Matt Sayles/Shutterstock

“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,” Keys said at the beginning of the show. “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”

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

Following the emotional performance, Keys said it was important for all of the artists in the room to band together through this hard time, as music is “the most healing thing in the world.”

Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

“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,” she said.

“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,” Keys continued. “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.”

Earlier in the day, there was a moment of silence observed during the un-televised portion of the awards ceremony, and many stars walking the red carpet paid tribute to the athlete — including BJ the Chicago Kid, Wyclef Jean, Rick Ross and Diplo.

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

The five-time NBA champion had been with his daughter and seven others when his private helicopter went down Sunday morning.

Kobe Bryant and Gianna
| Credit: Allen Berezovsky/Getty

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.

Spokespersons for Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Sources told ESPN that the helicopter was headed to a basketball tournament for Gianna. Bryant began coaching his daughter’s basketball team in retirement.

Additional victims in the crash have been identified as girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, as well as John Altobelli — the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College — his wife Keri Altobelli and their daughter, Alyssa Altobelli.

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