The rapper said he and the former Lakers star had crossed paths several times in the past, and were fans of each other's accomplishments

By Rachel DeSantis
January 26, 2020 06:19 PM
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Rick Ross paid tribute to Kobe Bryant on the 62nd annual Grammy Awards red carpet on Sunday, calling the former NBA star a “true champion” just hours after his tragic death.

Ross, 43, told PeopleTV he and Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning alongside his teenage daughter, had crossed paths several times before, and though their meetings were fleeting, each had time to pay respects to the other.

“A couple times we came across each other, it was real short and brief,” the rapper said. “I got the opportunity to let him know I was a fan of his career – he did the same.”

Kobe and Gianna Bryant
| Credit: Allen Berezovsky/Getty

Ross, whose “Gold Roses” is nominated for Best Rap Song, praised the longtime Los Angeles Laker, 41, as a “true champion,” and said he hoped those taking the stage at the Staples Center – the home of the Lakers – would find a silver lining in the legacy he leaves behind.

“I just feel like as a true champion, the champion Kobe was, I believe he would want us to celebrate his legacy, starting with the night, and whoever get on that stage, whoever bring one of those home, they gotta hold it up for the black mamba,” Ross said.

Bryant was killed alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, reps for the athlete told TMZ Sports. Seven others also died in the crash, authorities confirmed on Sunday.

“All survivors were determined to have been perished,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby said at a press conference.

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

Sources told ESPN that the helicopter was headed to a travel basketball game for Gianna.

The star is survived by his wife Vanessa, 37, and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

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Spokespersons for the Los Angeles county sheriff’s office and the Los Angeles Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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.