‘This was one of his favorite songs’: Beyonce opens Kobe Memorial with emotional performance

Beyonce appeared on stage for the “Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant,” opening the memorial with a rendition of her song XO. She paused early in the performance to say, “I’m here because I love Kobe.”

Before continuing the performance, the Grammy Award-winning artist took a moment to reflect on the late NBA champion, saying, “And this was one of his favorite songs, so I want to start that over but I want us to do it all together,” she said to the nearly 20,000 people that were in attendance at the event. 

Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, could be seen looking up at the video screens with tears in her eyes.

Beyonce followed the performance with her hit song “Halo,” which was immediately followed by a video of highlights of the 20-year career of the former Los Angeles Lakers star.

Fans fortunate enough to get tickets to the service filled the arena, where a stage ringed by red roses replaced the basketball court.

Bryant, his daughter and seven others were killed Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash in foggy weather while heading to a basketball tournament that Gianna was to play in.