Falling less than a month after the passing of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, this year's NBA All-Star festivities served as a bittersweet celebration of the athlete's legacy. As all the basketball players who'd flocked to Chicago for the annual event prepared to head back home following the weekend, Jennifer Hudson gave the late Mamba an emotional send-off during a special performance at the final 2020 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 16 — and it was so moving. Considering the athlete was an 18-time NBA All-Star champion himself, this video of Jennifer Hudson’s Kobe Bryant tribute performance was such a heartfelt homage to the late star.
Sunday's big game featured plenty of emotional tributes to the late basketball player, including some words from fellow NBA star Magic Johnson and a performance from Chicago-based rapper Common. Johnson introduced Hudson ahead of her performance, telling the crowd, "We will never see another basketball player quite like Kobe. He was passionate about being a great father, husband, filmmaker."
Hudson then took center stage and belted out a rendition of the standard "For All We Know (We May Meet Again)" while a video montage showing Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, who also died in the same Jan. 26 helicopter crash, played in the background. The performance was an emotional way to kick-off the weekend's final game when the passing of the NBA legend was still fresh on so many fans' minds.
Considering that this year's NBA All-Star weekend comes just weeks after the news broke that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other victims had died during a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, the crowd was clearly very emotional. The late Lakers legend and the 13-year-old were buried on Feb. 7, and a "Celebration of Life" memorial service is planned for Feb. 24 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Due to the timing of the tragedy and Bryant's own prowess at NBA All-Star events in the past (he was an 18-time winner), he was very much on attendees' minds during the weekend. Former President Barack Obama shared a few words about Bryant and the other families of the victims while speaking at the NBA All-Star Weekend Newsmaker Brunch on Saturday, Feb. 15. Obama, who's a parent to two daughters himself, said that there was "nothing more heartbreaking" than the loss of a child.
"That loss is something I know many are still grappling with," he told the crowd. "Particularly Kobe, because he was with his daughter and those families and those children. And those of us who have had the joy and privilege of being parents and taking kids to ball games and then rooting for our children and seeing our dreams and hopes passed on to them, nothing is more heartbreaking."
Fans have another opportunity to pay their respects to and honor the late legend by attending Bryant and his daughter's public "Celebration of Life" memorial on Feb. 24 at the Staples Center.