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Tears And Laughs: Kimmel, Fallon Lead Powerful Late-Night Tributes To Kobe Bryant

The late-night talk-show hosts paid tribute to Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant on Monday.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people killed in a helicopter accident on Sunday.

Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel forced back tears as they shared stories of their encounters with Bryant while Conan O’Brien discussed how he wanted to remember the Lakers star.  

“Late Show” host Stephen Colbert was off on Monday.

Fallon, above, recalled how he first met Bryant at a party when they were both young and relatively unknown, and how Bryant’s status at the time as a newly minted Laker helped save the event. It was a story he once told with Bryant’s help: 

After he told the story, Fallon said he and Bryant had remained friends and would laugh about that chance meeting long ago. 

“We’d laugh at all the good things that have happened since,” Fallon said, his voice cracking. “And we’d laugh about how much fun it was to raise kids, and all the stupid mistakes we made trying to figure out how to be good dads.”

He added: 

“I think I knew Kobe enough to know that he rose to any challenge by digging deeper and getting back to work. So let’s honor Kobe, Gianna and the other lives that were lost yesterday by following his example: Love your family, love your teammates and outwork everyone else in the gym.”

Kimmel did his show without a studio audience and turned the entire episode into a tribute to Bryant, who had appeared 15 times. He called the death a “punch in the gut.”

“There’s no silver lining here,” Kimmel said during his monologue, choking back tears. “It’s all bad, it’s all sad.”

Kimmel needed to pause a moment to collect himself:

“He was a bright light,” Kimmel said. “And that’s how I want to remember him.”  

Kimmel ended the show with a video montage of Bryant set to the acoustic version of “My Hero” by the Foo Fighters.  

Conan O’Brien shared some of his favorite memories from a couple of Bryant’s appearances on the show: 

James Corden also paid tribute to Bryant and the others who died in the crash. 

“I wish I could say something to make sense of it all and I can’t find the words to say,” Corden said. “All I can think of is this: If you can, take a moment tonight, tomorrow, to call up someone you love and just let them know.”  

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