The Staples Center played home to many of the NBA great's historic wins, and mourning fans turned the area surrounding the Lakers venue in Downtown Los Angeles into a sea of purple and gold.
Hosting the 62nd annual ceremony was Alicia Keys, who strived to keep the vibe positive despite feeling "crazy sadness right now because, earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. And we're literally standing here, heartbroken, in the house that Kobe Bryant built."
"Right now, Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, and all of those that have been tragically lost today are in our spirit, they're in our hearts, they're in our prayers, they're in this building, and I would like to ask everybody to take moment and just hold them inside of you, hold them inside of you, and share our strength and our support with their families," she went on, as the star-studded crowd bowed their heads in silence. "We never imagined in a million years we'd have to start the show like this. Never, never, never, never, never. So we wanted to do something that could describe a tiny bit how we all feel right now."
She then brought out Boyz II Men to join her for a heartfelt performance of "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday."
Taking to the piano a bit later, Keys tweaked the lyrics of Lewis Capaldi's "Someone You Loved" to emphasize the musicians honored on the night as well as pay additional tribute to the late NBA star, who she said loved music.
Here's how celebrities who attended music's biggest night paid tribute to Kobe Bryant:
"I didn't believe it at first. I still don't believe it," Diplo told Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet. "It's devastating. It's sad. I can't imagine losing one of my children or a father or a family member. He was so young. He was my age, 41, and he had so much more to do."
"And to be here at Staples right now, and to look up; you see his jersey up there and you just feel the energy. We're doing the Grammys right here, but 82 games a year they're playing in the stadium -- sorry, in this arena -- and Kobe brought this energy to Los Angeles for 20 years."
Seacrest asked, "What emotion do you think will be channeling through your body when you're on stage inside the Staples Center performing tonight?"
"Someone like that," Diplo replied. "He transcends iconic. So he's gonna be alive forever, I mean, I think he's gonna be around forever. I think, in this building, you have so much creative energy, and an athlete like him-- that's a creative genius, so... He's one of us."
Lizzo opened the show with a performance that she began by shouting Kobe into the mic. "I'm crying 'cause I love you!" she belted out. She went on to win Best Pop Solo Performance for "Truth Hurts" and told the audience all her minor problems and stresses of the day vanished when she got the news.
"I just wanna say this whole week... I be lost in my problems, stressed out and then in an instant, all of that can go away and your priorities really shift and today, all of my little problems that I thought were big as the world are gone and I realize that there's people hurting right now," she said."
Mowtown legend Smokey Robinson told Seacrest it was a "very solemn day, no question about it. I hate that it had to happen on a day where we're celebrating-- We're here, we're celebrating music and all that, and here this comes. Horrible."
"I know it's gonna be somber somewhat, but I just want to celebrate," he added. "That's what we had planned before any of this happened. We were gonna come tonight, have some fun, celebrate and have a good time, and this kind of put a damper on it, especially for people who knew Kobe. And to think of the peril of him being there with his daughter, as a dad and there's nothing you can do, it's rough."
Common told Ryan, "In these situations, I'm doing my best to just give it to the Creator and just try to spread the joy that we can have and think about the positive things and send as much love to his family as... We all feel it and feel it in our own way, but his family and his loved ones feel it in another way."
"I'm just giving it to God, and hopefully today we can celebrate through music, but it's nothing that can take away what life is," the rapper went on. "I just wanna say God bless his soul and his daughter and everyone that was on that helicopter. It just makes you think about people in the world. Man, we love him."
"Honestly, Kobe inspires me and gives me motivation because of his drive and how hard he works, and I wanna channel that same energy," H.E.R. said. "Everybody knows how hard he works, and I really look up to that. He's a legend."
DJ Khaled told Ryan the evening's tribute to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle was also for Kobe Bryant. "The news is devastating. It's hard to even talk about it. But what we're gonna do is lift the spirits and pay homage and show love, 'cause Nispey would say, 'The marathon continues.'"
Lil Nas X
During his performance of "Old Town Road," Lil Nas X adorned his set with a Kobe Bryant jersey.
Hosting E!'s red carpet coverage, Ryan Seacrest began by saying he was "starting the show on a very somber note. We wanna take a moment to say we are deeply saddened by the passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the others aboard the helicopter, which tragically crashed today in Calabasas, California." He called him "one of the greatest basketball players and greatest athletes to ever live. His loss will be felt even more deeply tonight at a place he considered home."
Seacrest's co-host, Giuliana Rancic, added, "My heart is so heavy today, like so many people watching. Not just in the United States, but all around the world. As a mother, as a wife, as a human, my heart goes out to Vanessa and their family tonight, first and foremost.
Seacrest said one of the first tweets he saw of the devastating news was from Trevor Noah. "What were you feeling and have you processed it yet?" he asked.
"I don't think I've processed anything yet," replied the comedian. "I don't think anyone has. You know it's very strange when you feel like you know somebody because of all the moments and impacts they've had on your life' and I think that's what a lot of people are going through with the news of Kobe Bryant and his daughter and the other people who were involved with the crash."
"And it's one of those experiences where you can feel it. You can feel it," he added. "And everyone's walking in and we're celebrating each other today, but at the same time, it feels like now the entire Staples is going to be celebrating somebody who just strove for excellence, ya know? Someone who inspired others to be the best they could be."
Dua Lipa said the news was "incredibly sad. It's very difficult just to see everything that's going on online as well. I feel like everyone in L.A. is up on their feet, and it's really upsetting."
The Access Hollywood reporter also sported Kobe's number on her arm.