BJ The Chicago Kid Says He Admired Kobe Bryant and Has 'Nothing But Love' For Late Athlete

The R&B singer said he respects the late athlete and "will continue to forever"

BJ the Chicago Kid is mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant after the longtime Los Angeles Lakers star was tragically killed in a California helicopter crash.

The singer, 35, told PeopleTV at the 62nd annual Grammys on Sunday that while it felt “amazing” to be at the ceremony, Bryant’s death had cast a solemn air over the evening.

“It’s worth the honor of someone of that stature and his family, even the other passengers, it’s worth the respect,” the star (né Bryan James Sledge) said. “There’s no way in the world I could not speak about the honor of Mr. Kobe Bryant and those others involved in the crash.”

Bryant, 41, died Sunday morning alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and an additional seven other people when their helicopter went down in Calabasas, California, authorities said at a press conference.

Kobe Bryant
Allen Berezovsky/Getty

The athlete was reportedly traveling in his private helicopter at the time, according to TMZ.

BJ the Chicago Kid noted that because he’s from the Windy City, his basketball hero has always been Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan — but that Bryant held a special place in his heart, too, because of his connection to Jordan.

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

“To understand he’s a student of the same man that we love, I have nothing but love for him,” BJ told PeopleTV. “I got a chance to meet him before. I admire the way of his thinking, I admire the way of his attack, his aggression, I admire his humbleness at the same time, I admire him still sharing love and letting them know it’s not just about the aggression in basketball and just going to get it but it’s the balance. I respect the man and will continue to forever.”

The singer was nominated for two awards at the 2020 Grammys: best R&B album (1123) and best traditional R&B performance (“Time Today”), which were won by Anderson .Paak and Lizzo, respectively.

RELATED VIDEO: Rick Ross Pays Tribute to ‘True Champion’ Kobe Bryant

“I think being an R&B solo artist, it really takes a certain kind of stability to withstand something that’s not being so popular and you stay there,” he said on the carpet, because it’s so easy to go do what everyone else is doing. But to believe in something and be here for it and be Grammy-nominated for it makes me feel amazing. I’m honored to be here for who I really am. Not for something I’m trying to be.”

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.

Tune into the 62nd annual Grammy Awards at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CBS.

Related Articles