Ellen DeGeneres recorded a special opening to her talk show on Monday to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and the seven others who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. While speaking about the basketball legend, she became very emotional and urged viewers to live every day to the fulliest and celebrate life.
“Today is Monday. Yesterday was Sunday and it happened to be my birthday and the Grammy Awards. I was nominated. I didn’t win. Not the point,” DeGeneres joked, before turning more serious.
“Yesterday was a celebratory day and we got tragic news about Kobe Bryant and everything changed in a second,” she said “That’s what I want to talk about: Life is short and it’s fragile. And we don’t know how many birthdays we have. We don’t have to have a birthday to celebrate. Just celebrate life.”
“If you haven’t told someone you love them, do it now,” she continued. “Tell people you love them. Call your friends. Text your friends. Hug them. Kiss them. Be nice to people at the DMV. They’re people!
“I know that I’m lucky to have a wife who loves me so much, even though I don’t have a Grammy,” she said. “I get to come to work every single day with people who make me laugh. I love everybody I work with.”
“I was backstage before the show started and I was saying to tWitch, because we’ve both said today, ‘We’re gonna go out there and fill the room with love because that’s what everyone needs. Then I come out here and fall apart,” she concluded.
On Sunday, Ellen tweeted her thoughts on the news, writing, “Like everyone, I’m stunned and saddened by the news about Kobe Bryant. My heart is broken for his wife and family.’
Tributes to Bryant have been coming in from everywhere since his death. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement following the news:
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary: five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 NBA All-Star selections, and two Olympic gold medals.”
But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability. He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family, the Lakers organization and the entire sports world.”