On Monday night, both Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon paid tribute to Kobe Bryant, who died over the weekend in a tragic helicopter crash that also took the lives of his daughter Gianna and seven others.
Kimmel dedicated an entire episode to Kobe, speaking about their relationship at the top of the show before sharing a collection of highlights from his 15 appearances on the show.
"Tonight's show is going to be different from our usual show," Kimmel said. "We don't have a studio audience here tonight because going forward with a comedy show didn't feel right considering what happened yesterday." Kimmel added that Kobe's death was "a punch in the gut for many of us" as Kobe was the "last person" one could imagine this happening to.
"He was a hero, and when I say that I don't mean a hero like real heroes like firefighters and doctors and nurses who actually save lives," Kimmel said. "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, it was almost like he was a fictional character. He was a real-life superhero with a costume and everything walking amongst us."
Over on The Tonight Show, Fallon remembered Kobe as a longtime friend whose career trajectory somewhat mirrored his own.
"Kobe was such a life force," he said. "So strong and creative and inspired that, in my head, I thought that he was gonna live forever." Fallon then recalled first meeting Kobe when he was 21 and Kobe was 17. The two met at a party in Los Angeles, where they were ultimately sent off on a beer run. The trip resulted in a visit to Pink Dot, where the two were informed that an in-person beer purchase wasn't possible. That is, of course, until Kobe presented his ID and informed the employee he was a Laker.
This helped them, as Fallon recalled, by subsequently allowing them to pick up five cases of beer, which "saved the party."
To honor the lives lost in the crash, Fallon suggested, people should follow Kobe's example and "love your family, love your teammates, and outwork anyone else in the gym."
Fellow late-night hosts James Corden and Conan O'Brien also shared messages of remembrance for Kobe. See those below.