In what would be an otherwise seamless celebration of music and entertainment, the world lost a giant in Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players to have ever graced the earth. The Laker legend lost his life, along with his 13-year old daughter Gianna and seven others in a horrific helicopter crash leaving Calabasas. The Grammy’s, while side-swiped by the news, would carry on in his honor at the Staples Center, the epicenter he made his home for more than 20-years.
Switching gears with absolutely no time to prepare for the shocking news, host and Grammy-award winning artist, Alicia Keys led the opening of the show with a tribute to Bryant, joined by Boyz II Men on stage. “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” rang throughout the Staples Center with a resounding air of silence, as attendees looked on in utter shock and disbelief. “We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” Keys said.
Lizzo also opened the show, dedicating the night to Kobe. The “Truth Hurts” singer took home three Grammy’s for the evening, winning for Best Pop Solo Performance, Traditional R&B performance and Urban Contemporary Album.
As the night edged on, singer Usher hit the stage with an electrifying tribute to the late Prince, belting out renditions of “Kiss” and “When Doves Cry” while accompanied on stage by legendary percussionist, Sheila E. and Grammy-nominated singer, FKA Twigs.
Camila Cabello also gave quite the emotional performance honoring her father, a sentiment to be felt throughout the room, as the now late Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna too shared an impeccable bond.
Top awards for the evening went to America’s newest sweetheart, 18-year-old Billie Eilish. The “Bad Guy” singer made quite the Grammy debut, taking home four out of the six most competitive Grammy’s for Best New Artist, Best Album, Best Record and Song of the Year. Known for her sultry sound, eccentric flare and intrinsic grandeur, Eilish remained astounded about the honors saying she “never thought this would happen” in her life.
Lil Nas X won two Grammys for best music video and best pop duo/group performance. Welcomed to the Grammys stage for the first time by Ellen DeGeneres, Lil Nas X performed a medley of his record-shattering hit “Old Town Road”, joined on stage by Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, BTS and Mason Ramsey, followed by a debut of his latest single “Rodeo” with the original Nasir “Nas” Jones.
Tyler Creator won Best Rap Album of the year, saying backstage that the honor feels like a “back-handed compliment.” “It sucks that whenever we, and I mean guys that look like me, do anything that’s genre bending, or that’s anything, they always put it in an urban category – and I don’t like that urban word, it’s just a politically correct way to say the N-word to me,” Tyler said. Tyler went on to say that he feels artists of his caliber and complexion should simply be recognized for their artistry across all spectrums, including pop.
In a touching tribute to L.A. rap legend Nipsey Hussle, Meek Mill, YG, Roddy Rich, DJ Khaled, John Legend and Kirk Franklin joined forces to pay homage to the larger-than-life superstar and businessman, who was tragically gunned down last year. Hussle posthumously won two Grammys for Best Rap Performance for his “Racks in the Middle” song featuring Roddy Rich and Hit-Boy along with “Higher,” the spirited anthem featured on DJ Khaled’s Father of Asahd album. Sealing the deal to a bitter-sweet night and monumental moment in history of losing yet another industry giant, Kobe Bryant, we will continue to celebrate their names and thrive in their legacies.