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Jimmy Kimmel and Kobe Bryant onstage together

Jimmy Kimmel Re-Airs Old Kobe Bryant Interviews in Lieu of His Normal Show

Gettyimages | Jason Kempin
By Joe Allen

On Monday night, Jimmy Kimmel's normally rowdy Los Angeles studio was silent. In order to honor Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash, Kimmel decided to forgo his usual comedy show and the studio audience that comes with it.

Instead, he reflected on Bryant's sudden death. "Going forward with a comedy show didn't feel right given what happened yesterday, so I'd like to just speak to you directly," he said at the top of his show before elaborating on his heartbreak.

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"That was a punch in the gut for many of us," Kimmel said. "Kobe was – and I know this might not make sense – but he was just the last person you could have ever imagined something like this happening to. He was so strong and handsome and smart and energetic. He was a hero."

Kimmel made it clear that his goal was not to compare Kimmel to a firefighter or a doctor, but to explain why he meant so much to so many.

Kobe Bryant on the basketball court
Gettyimages | Rob Carr

"And when I say that, I don’t mean a hero like real heroes — like firefighters, or doctors and nurses — who actually save lives," the host continued. "I don’t mean to compare what he did for a living to what they do. I know there are more important things than basketball. Almost everything is more important."

But, Kimmel said, Kobe was always there when basketball fans needed him most. He seemed to be their knight in shining armor, especially in Los Angeles.

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"He always showed up to save the day... He had a force of will, he never gave up," Kimmel said. "As an athlete, he was incredibly gifted - more than almost anyone, he was talented beyond reason - and yet, he worked harder than everyone. He worked harder than people with much less talent than he had."

Kimmel and Bryant had a personal relationship. In fact, the two would talk even when they weren't on Kimmel's show together about everything from basketball to Kobe's injuries.

Giphy | NBA

"I know he wasn’t a perfect person. I understand that," Kimmel said, seeming to subtly acknowledge the rape allegations against Bryant. "My intention is not to canonize him. Or to make judgments about things I don’t know anything about. But I will say [that] he loved his family, he worked very hard and he brought a lot of joy to a lot of people in this city."

Kimmel then introduced a series of interviews he'd done with Bryant over his years as a host.

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