Jimmy Fallon Breaks Down in Tears as He Recalls Meeting a 17-Year-Old Kobe Bryant
On Monday, The Tonight Show host broke down in tears during his opening show monologue when remembering his late friend, recalling their first meeting years ago after the two had just moved to Los Angeles.
“Kobe was such a life force, so strong and creative and inspired that in my head I thought that he would live forever,” Fallon began.
“I met Kobe when he was 17 and I was 21,” he recalled. “He was a rookie on the Lakers and I was just starting out on the comedy scene in L.A. We were at a party and we didn’t know anyone at the party, so we just started talking. I said, ‘Hey what do you do?’ and he said ‘I play basketball’ and I go ‘Where?’ and he goes ‘For the Lakers.’ I go ‘Wow.”
Continuing, Fallon said that he and Bryant “hit it off” instantly.
“He was telling me he was into poetry. I met his sister. Then the guy that was having the party said, ‘Hey guys who wants to make a beer run?’ and Kobe wasn’t drinking, he was 17, so he goes ‘I’ll do it, Jimmy you want to come?’”
The late-night host went on, “We drive down Sunset Blvd. to this place called Pink Dot. So, I go in and I open the door and it’s locked and the guy goes ‘Sorry, I can’t sell you anything.’ And I go, ‘We just want to get the beer right there’ and he’s like ‘Yeah, I can’t do that,’ That’s not how this place works. We’re delivery only. Kobe then takes out his ID and puts it up against the glass and he goes ‘I’m a Laker’ and the guy opened the door and we walked away with five cases of beer and we saved the party.”
“Kobe went on to become a legend. When we’d run into each other over the years, we’d laugh about the night we first met,” Fallon said through tears. “We’d laugh at all the good things that happened since and we’d laugh at how much fun it was to raise kids. Kobe had four daughters and I had two daughters and today he and one of his daughters are gone.”
“Let’s honor Kobe, Gianna and the other lives lost. Love your family, love your teammates and outwork everyone else in the gym. To Vanessa and all those affected by this tragedy, we love you and we’ll always be there for all of you. Kobe, when we meet again, we’re going on a beer run,” he concluded.
Several other late-night and TV show hosts also honored Bryant during their broadcasts, including Jimmy Kimmel, James Corden, Conan O’Brien and Ellen Degeneres.
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Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were two of nine victims who perished in a deadly helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, California.
Sarah Chester and her daughter, eighth-grader Payton, the head basketball coach at Orange Coast College John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, girls basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan were also on the aircraft during the incident. There were no survivors.
Bryant and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.