Jimmy Kimmel filmed his talk show without a studio audience because it didn’t “feel right” in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death.
The 52-year-old presenter dedicated Monday’s episode of ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ to the basketball legend – who passed away along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash on Sunday (26.01.20) – and remembered the former NBA star as a “hero”.
He said in his opening 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 – so I’d like to just speak to you directly…
“Going forward with a comedy show didn’t feel right considering what happened yesterday.”— Jimmy Kimmel
“Kobe was — and I know this might not make sense – but he was just the last person you could have ever imagined something like this happening to. He was so strong — and handsome — and smart — and energetic — he was a hero.
“And when I say that, I don’t mean a hero like real heroes — like firefighters, or doctors and nurses — who actually save lives.
“I don’t mean to compare what he did for a living to what they do. I know there are more important things than basketball. Almost everything is more important.
“But Kobe was a hero in the way Superman is a hero. He was so big and full of life, it was almost like he was a fictional character. A real-life superhero — with a costume and everything — walking amongst us.”
After reflecting on the “incredibly gifted” sportsman’s career and how inspirational he was, Jimmy went on to remember how kind Kobe – who is survived by wife Vanessa and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, three, and Capri, seven months – was to him when his own son Billy, now two, was in hospital being treated for a heart condition as a baby.
He said: “He loved being a father. When my son had heart surgery, Kobe checked in with me repeatedly. He made a point, once Billy was out of the hospital to meet him. He wanted to meet him. And from time to time, he’d check in on how he was doing.”
The presenter urged viewers to pray for the victims of the crash.
He then concluded: “I can’t imagine how much they are missed. This was a terrible loss for those families, and for the Lakers, for Kobe’s teammates, for his fans. There’s no silver lining here, it’s just awful.
“It’s all bad. It’s all sad. He was a bright light, and that’s how I want to remember him.”