UPDATED with Jimmy Fallon tribute: Kobe Bryant wasn’t just beloved by sports fans, late-night hosts really liked him too.
Jimmy Kimmel paid tribute to Bryant, and said there was no studio audience tonight on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live out of respect for the NBA legend, who died in a helicopter crash over the weekend. Bryant’s teenage daughter Gianna and seven others were also killed.
“That was a punch in the gut for many of us,” Kimmel explained. “Kobe was a hero, in the way Superman is a hero. He was so…big and full of life, it was almost like he was a fictional character.”
“He wanted to save the day. He had a force of will, he never gave up. 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 added. “He was a bright light. And that’s how I want to remember him. He was on this show 15 times. We had many fun and interesting conversations.”
An emotional Jimmy Fallon ended his Tonight Show Monday with a special tribute to Bryant, recalling a beer run he made with the NBA legend on the night they met at a party.
Fallon said they drove to a store that was locked and the man behind the door told the pair that he couldn’t sell to them because the store only delivered. Bryant held up his ID and told the worker, “I’m a Laker,” Fallon said, adding that they then were able to get five cases and “saved the party”. Fallon recalled when the two would see each other over the years, “We’d laugh about how much fun it is to raise kids and all the stupid mistakes we made trying to figure out how to be good dads.” He ended the segment by saying, “Kobe, when we meet again we’re going on a beer run.”
Conan O’Brien also took time out to remember Bryant tonight on TBS’ Conan, saying the retired Lakers star was an amazing talk show guest.
“He was naturally very funny and charming. He really was,” Conan said. “A terrific guest. A superstar doesn’t have to be a great guest, he just was. Whenever he was on our show, he was a joy to talk with, and he always had the audience in the palm of his hand. That’s the guy that I’ve been thinking about these past 24 hours.”
You can watch the tributes above and below.