Kobe Bryant’s love of classical music was honored during the powerful celebration of life for the NBA legend on Monday.
Alicia Keys took the stage at the Staples Center to perform Beethoven’s “Piano Sonata No. 14,” which is known as the “Moonlight Sonata.”
Wearing a purple, jewel-encrusted suit, Keys played the piano while backed by a group of string instruments.
Bryant had taught himself how to play the classic song by ear years prior to romance his longtime wife Vanessa.
The 41-year-old and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in the hills of Calabasas, California, on January 26. He is survived by Vanessa and their daughters Capri, 7 months, Bianka, 3, and Natalia, 17.
Keys hosted the Grammys at Staples Center the day of Bryant’s death, and was joined by the R&B group Boyz II Men in a rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” in the NBA legend’s honor that evening.
She also gave a heartfelt tribute of her own in her opening monologue of the show.
During a chat with Ellen DeGeneres after the Grammys, the 39-year-old singer recalled the opening of the show changing “minutes before” it was set to begin.
“We had to really figure out, ‘How can we properly honor him in his house on this night?’ ” Keys explained. “And everybody who adores him and loves him so much and have been inspired by him felt so devastated in that moment. We had to properly do that.”
“I was literally backstage, I put on my meditation music, I just was thinking and I called some of my closest people that helped me really find the truth in the moment,” she continued. “It just so happened Boyz II Men was there already that night and we wanted to do something special — create just something that felt like it was the right thing — and we pulled it together and it was just beautiful. It was like that magic that happens when it’s necessary.”
Earlier in Monday’s memorial, Beyoncé performed two of her most emotional tracks to kick things off.
The singer started to sing her hit “XO,” before stopping to tell the crowd, “I’m here because I love Kobe and this was one of his favorite songs.”
She then explained she was going to restart the song from the beginning, and asked the crowd to sing along.
After concluding the track, Beyoncé, 38, launched into “Halo.”
Beyoncé’s performance wasn’t the first musical tribute to the basketball icon.
Jennifer Hudson, 38, performed the classic “For All We Know (We May Meet Again)” at the 2020 All-Star Game earlier this month in an emotional tribute.
And at the Lakers’ first home game after Kobe’s death, Wiz Khalia and Charlie Puth did a performance of their emotional 2015 track “See You Again,” which was initially featured in the soundtrack for Furious 7as a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker.
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