Ellen DeGeneres broke down in tears as she paid an emotional tribute to the late Kobe Bryant following his sudden death on January 26, which also happened to be her 62nd birthday. The comedian and talk show host addressed the tragedy during the opening monologue segment of her eponymous daytime talk show on the January 28 episode, which was taped the day before.
Ellen was visibly emotional as she discussed the basketball superstar’s death after he was killed in a helicopter crash in California alongside eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
“Thank you for being here. I appreciate it today more than ever, more than I did yesterday, and tomorrow I will appreciate it more tomorrow than today because life is short,” Ellen said, per People Magazine, as she explained that she didn’t address the tragedy on Monday’s show because it had been pre-taped the week before.
“Yesterday was a celebratory day,” she said, referring to it being her birthday as well as the 2020 Grammy Awards, which she attended because she was nominated for Best Comedy Album for her Netflix stand-up comedy show Relatable.
“And we got tragic news about Kobe Bryant and everything changed in a second,” Ellen added.
“Life is short and it’s fragile. And we don’t know how many birthdays we have. We don’t have to have a birthday to celebrate, just celebrate life,” Ellen said as she became visibly emotional while addressing the audience in the studio and at home.
“If you haven’t told someone you love them, do it now. Tell people you love them. Call your friends. Text your friends. Hug them. Kiss them,” The Ellen DeGeneres Show host continued through tears.
Ellen then explained that she and dancer tWitch, who dances at the beginning of every one of her shows and sits in her DJ booth while she chats with famous faces, had made a promise while backstage that even though they were both feeling “sad” that day, they would still go out and put on a great show.
The comedian admitted that she knew she was falling apart as she shared her inspiring message.
Kobe had been a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show multiple times in the past, and even gave Ellen his first big post-retirement interview in April 2016. He last appeared on the daytime talk show in April 2019 where he sweetly discussed his family.
Kobe and Gianna are survived by Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mom, Vanessa Bryant, as well as Kobe’s daughters and Gianna’s sisters, 17-year-old Natalia, 3-year-old Bianka, and 7-month-old Capri.