In the wake of the news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles on Sunday, tributes and remembrances for the NBA superstar, his daughter, and the other victims have been pouring in. In addition to a musical tribute to Bryant at the Grammys and late-night monologues from Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, and Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel presented a tribute of his own last night in the form of an audience-free episode completely devoted to Bryant and his 15 appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live over the years.
“Tonight’s show is going to be different from our usual show,” Kimmel said at the beginning of his monologue. “We don’t have a studio audience here tonight, because going forward with a comedy show didn’t feel right considering what happened yesterday.” After describing Bryant as a “real-life superhero with a costume and everything” who “worked harder than everyone,” Kimmel highlighted how Bryant uniquely belonged to everyone in L.A., whether they were basketball fans or not. “And yes, I know he was not a perfect person. I understand that,” Kimmel added later. “My intention is not to canonize him or make judgments about things I don’t know anything about. But I will say he loved his family, he worked very hard, and he brought a lot of joy to a lot of people in this city, and we’re gonna miss him.” The rest of the episode featured clips from Kimmel’s interviews with Bryant over the years, starting with their final chat together last year. “There’s no silver lining here,” Kimmel said at the end of his monologue while in tears. “It’s all bad, it’s all sad. He was a bright light, and that’s how I want to remember him.”