Late night comedy show hosts spent Monday night honoring basketball legend Kobe Bryant after he died suddenly in a helicopter crash Sunday.
Fallon spent the beginning of “The Tonight Show” in tears, recalling the moment he first met Bryant.
“Kobe was such a life force, so strong and creative and inspired, that in my head I thought he was going to live forever,” Fallon said. “I met Kobe when he was 17 and I was 21. He was a rookie on the Lakers, and I was just starting out in the comedy scene in L.A. and we were at a party and we didn’t know anyone at the party so we just started talking… we got along, and hit it off.”
Corden pointed that Bryant wasn’t just an athlete, that he meant more to people than just sports.
“There are some athletes that transcend their sports before you ever even get a chance to see them play, and Kobe Bryant was one of those athletes,” Corden said. (RELATED: Kobe Bryant’s Helicopter Was Flying Dangerously Low Before Fatal Crash)
“Our hearts break at this tragedy,” he continued. “Our thoughts and our love go out to Kobe’s wife, and to his children, his family and friends. We mourn the other seven people on that helicopter, whose loss is no less profound, and our hearts go out to their friends and their families too. I wish I could say something to make sense of it all, but I can’t find the words. All I can say is this: If you can, take a moment, tonight or tomorrow, to call up someone you love and just let them know.”
Kimmel dedicated his entire show to Bryant. He did not have his regular studio audience, instead he spoke directly to the viewers at home about his relationship with Bryant.
“[Kobe] was the last person you could ever imagine something like this happening to. He was so strong and so handsome and smart and energetic. He was a hero,” Kimmel shared on the show. “And when I say that I don’t mean a hero like real heros like firefighters or doctors and nurses who actually save lives. I don’t mean to compare what he did for a living to what they do… but Kobe was a hero in the way Superman was a hero. He was so big it was almost like he was a fictional character. He was a real-life superhero with a costume and everything walking among us.”
As previously reported, Bryant died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others including pilot Ara Zobayan. The group was en route to the Mamba Sports Academy. Pilot Zobayan was warned he was flying the helicopter too low before the chopper crashed into a mountainside in California.