As the sudden death of Kobe Bryant on Sunday shook the sports and entertainment worlds to their core, Kanye West hosted a midnight post-Grammys Sunday Service in Burbank, California, where the hip-hop star honored the NBA legend with a soulful performance.
“When I was driving home, they was pinning your jersey on the freeway and I just broke down,” West freestyled during the service. “Kobe it’s too far. Shoot it from where you are. Remember that you’re a star. You gotta do more, you gotta go hard. If Kobe was here, he’d maybe grab the mic. If Kobe was here … he here tonight,” he added.
The hip-hop artist’s emotional performance was the latest addition to an archive made up of hundreds of hip-hop lyrics over the past two decades that hail the basketball legend, where his name is often used as a simile for greatness.
The 41-year-old icon was among nine people who died in a helicopter crash in the wealthy Southern California residential neighborhood of Calabasas on Sunday. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died alongside her father.MORE: Celebrity fans pay homage to NBA legend Kobe Bryant after he dies in California helicopter crash
Videos of the early Monday performance were posted by those in attendance, including West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West.
From hip-hop moguls like Jay-Z and Diddy, to stars like Drake and Kendrick Lamar, the five-time NBA champ was name-dropped in hundreds of verses over the years as a symbol of grit, greatness and the triumphant status of a baller who defies all odds.
Lamar famously paid tribute to the basketball star upon his retirement in 2016 in “Kobe Bryant: Fade to Black,” where he reflects on Bryant’s legacy and what he meant to Los Angeles. And in 2017, the Compton rapper sat down with Bryant for an interview with Complex magazine, where the two reflected on what greatness means to them.