A photo montage that was played during A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant featured a soundtrack that included “Memories” by Maroon 5 and “I Belong to You” by Lenny Kravitz. The memorial ended with the Nat King Cole song “Unforgettable.” But there were also live performances by some of the biggest musical stars in the world as they took to a stage that was surrounded by 33,643 roses, one for every point Bryant scored in his NBA career.
As a packed house of 20,000 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles — and millions of viewers from around the world — looked on, superstar singers and musicians paid tribute to their late friend at the memorial service held one month after his sudden death. These include Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Christina Aguilera.
Beyonce – ‘XO’ & ‘Halo’
Beyonce, a close friend of the Bryant family, opened the memorial celebration with a performance of her hit songs “XO” and “Halo.” Before briefly stopping her performance, the longtime Lakers fan told the crowd that she chose “XO” because it was one of Kobe’s favorite songs. Beyonce then asked the crowd to join her in singing the song before she segued into her 2008 “Halo.” The powerful tribute also featured a choir and an orchestra.
Alicia Keys – ‘Moonlight Sonata’
On the heels of her poignant tribute to Kobe at the 62nd Grammy Awards on the same day as his death, Alicia Keys performed the Beethoven song “Moonlight Sonata” on a purple piano at his memorial celebration. The song was introduced as one of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant‘s favorite musical numbers. Keys, who was also dressed in purple in tribute to Kobe’s Lakers colors, became emotional as she sat at her piano.
Keys’ performance came just after Bryant’s best friend Rob Pelinka addressed the crowd and revealed that Kobe learned to play the classical arrangement on his own as a testament to his love for his wife Vanessa, per Billboard. Pelinka shared that when he was away from his wife, Kobe vowed to “live in his love for Vanessa, so at night under the moonlit sky, he vowed to teach himself by ear to play the first movement” of the classic Beethoven composition. Within one week, Kobe had the piece mastered by practicing on a piano in his hotel suite.
Christina Aguilera – ‘Ave Maria’
Christina Aguilera was a Lakers’ good luck charm during the team’s 2010 championship run. She famously sang the national anthem before the Finals Game 6 against the Boston Celtics, a series they ultimately crowned Kobe as the Finals MVP, according to Entertainment Tonight. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the six-time Grammy winner helped close out the NBA legend’s memorial tribute with a beautiful performance of “Ave Maria.” Aguilera wore all black as she sang the Franz Schubert song while accompanied by a harp and a string ensemble.