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Alicia Keys performs with Boyz II Men at the Grammys

Alicia Keys Reveals How Her Grammys Tribute to Kobe Bryant Came Together

Gettyimages | Kevork Djansezian
By Joe Allen

When news of Kobe Bryant's death came Sunday, it sent shockwaves through Los Angeles and around the world. It also caused some last minute changes to several of the live events already scheduled for the day. Tributes were offered at basketball games, during the Pro Bowl, and at the Grammy awards held on Sunday night.

Alicia Keys was set to host the event, and she brought Boyz II Men onstage for a stripped down tribute to the basketball icon. The quartet sang "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday."

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During an interview on "Ellen," Keys explained how the tribute to Bryant had come together at the last minute. "We were all freaking out, because obviously, hearing the news about Kobe [Bryant] and his daughter [Gianna], was so tragic and none of us can still believe it right now to this day," Keys said.

The singer knew that it was important to honor Bryant, in part because the Grammys were being held in the Staples Center, where Bryant had played for 20 years.

Gettyimages | Kevin Winter

"I think that it was definitely a crazy feeling because literally minutes before, we were going to do something else," Keys said. "And we had to really figure out how could we properly honor him in his house, on this night, and everybody who adores him, and loves him so much and has been inspired by him and felt so devastated in that moment, we couldn’t – we had to properly do that."

For the singer, it was a moment that she couldn't let pass her by.


"I was literally backstage. I put on my meditation music. I was just thinking, and I called some of my closest people that help me really find the truth in the moment," Keys said in the interview. "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. We pulled it together, and it was just beautiful. It was like that magic that happens when it’s necessary."

Giphy | SHOWTIME Sports

Keys's tribute was not the only moment of the ceremony that paid tribute to Bryant. Lizzo opened the show by paying homage to the icon, and Lil Nas X began his performance of "Old Town Road" in a room that featured a vintage Kobe jersey.

Even in the world of music, everyone felt the loss of Bryant powerfully. The Grammys gave each of these artists a chance to signal how much they respected Bryant while he was alive, and how his death had impacted them.

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