The award-winning singer and actress sang the classic “For All We Know” just before the game got underway. As images of Bryant and his daughter Gianna played on a screen behind her, the Chicago native performed an impeccable version of the song.
Before taking center court, Hudson was introduced by basketball icon and businessman Magic Johnson, who told attendees he wanted everyone to “come together” to honor Bryant and former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who died on New Year’s Day.
“We will never see another basketball player quite like Kobe,” Johnson said. “He was passionate about being a great father, husband, filmmaker.”
The audience briefly interrupted Johnson while chanting “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe.” Johnson then called for eight seconds of silence in honor of Bryant, who wore the jersey numbers 8 and 24 during his Lakers career.
After Hudson performed, Chicago rapper Common began a spoken word tribute to his hometown, praising fellow Chicago natives Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade. Then he segued into a tribute to former President Barack Obama and Bryant.
[Watch Common’s Performance Below]
“He used his game to touch the world’s soul, a king named Kobe Bryant who wore purple and gold,” Common said.
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on January 26. The crash also claimed the lives of pilot Ara Zobayan; Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife Keri Altobelli; their 14-year-old daughter Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser, a basketball coach at Harbor Day School in Newport Beach; 13-year-old Payton Chester, a basketball teammate of Gianna’s; and her mother, Sarah Chester.
A public memorial for the victims is scheduled to take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 24.