Grammy Award producers are “working quickly” to add a tribute to Kobe Bryant into tonight’s ceremony following the basketball legend’s death today in a helicopter crash.
Details are still in play, but a Recording Academy representative confirmed the tribute to the famed Los Angeles Laker. Slain rapper Nipsey Hussle, also a Los Angeles hero, will be celebrated.
Interim Recording Academy chief and board chair Harvey Mason led the audience in a moment of silence for Bryant at the premiere ceremony.
“Since we are in his house I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence,” Mason, who is leading the organization while CEO/president Deborah Dugan is on administrative leave, said from the stage at the Microsoft Theater. The Microsoft Theater is in LA Live, a complex that also houses Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Artists on the red carpet also paid tribute to Bryant, including producer Rick Ross. “The couple times I got to run across Kobe, it was real short and brief, but I let him Know I was a huge fan of his career, and he let me know the same, man,” Ross told Billboard.
The Grammys have had to adjust to tragedy just hours before the show before, most notably in 2012, when Whitney Houston died the day before the awards. The year’s host LL Cool J led the audience in prayer, while Jennifer Hudson performed “I Will Always Love You.”
Bryant was a fan of all kinds of music, but also of excellence. In 2016, he helped honor composer John Williams at the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.
“In 2009, I asked him to meet me,” said the recently retired Los Angeles Lakers superstar, who garnered the biggest ovation of the night other than the five-time Oscar winner. “I needed to understand how he created timeless music… his complex compositions told simple stories that captured the magic in all of us. John’s music achieved a level of perfection that I wanted to replicate on the basketball court. If I could understand how John did it, maybe, just maybe I could do it too. John was a catalyst for me to search and learn and be inspired.”
Nine people perished in the helicopter crash, including Bryant’s daughter Gianna.
This story is developing…
Stay tuned for Billboard.com’s complete coverage of the 2020 Grammys, including our live Grammys pre-show that begins on Sunday (Jan. 26) at 5:30PM ET.