Usher Utters Heartrending ‘Amazing Grace’ Rendition at Lakers’ First Pregame Since Kobe Bryant’s Death

Taking to the floor to honor his late friend, Usher performed a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace” during the Los Angeles Lakers’ pregame tribute to their former shooting guard Kobe Bryant on Jan. 31, 2020.

Bryant lost his life along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26.

The Jan. 31 game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center marked the Lakers’ first game back since Bryant’s death, as per WSB-TV.

Usher performs as the Los Angeles Lakers honor Kobe Bryant before their game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center in L.A. on Jan. 31, 2020. (©Getty Images | Kevork Djansezian)

Usher stood center court dressed in a black suit and sneakers. The singer’s heartbreaking rendition of the popular gospel hymn was accompanied by live pipe organ and was featured on a tweet via ESPN.

The stage was adorned with two yellow floral arrangements depicting the numbers 8 and 24, Bryant’s numbers during his time playing for the Lakers. Bryant was drafted into the NBA in 1996, and he retired in 2016 to coach basketball.

As per USA Today Sports, following Usher’s opening number, the Lakers played a tribute video to Bryant and his teen daughter on the jumbotron with cellist Ben Hong playing live in the background. “Once upon a time, there was a young basketball player who dreamed of becoming one of the greatest basketball players of all time,” a voiceover narrates.

Clips of interviews with Bryant spelling out his love and ambitions for the game were interwoven with montages of action sequences on the court as well as moments with his daughter. Speaking of his draft into the NBA, the late player himself commented, “If that doesn’t get you going, I don’t know if anything will!”

“Do you love the process?” the former shooting guard then reflected. “Those boring, agonizing moments. If you love that, then you know you’ve found something that’s really true to you.”

After the moving video tribute, LeBron James entered the spotlight and shared his personal reflections. “Mamba out, but not forgotten,” he said, as per CBS Sports, in honor of his friend and sporting comrade.

Fans from all over responded to footage of Bryant’s tribute on Twitter. “Thanks for showing the world that it’s all about being a dad,” wrote one viewer. “Much respect to a great basketball player that was an even better father.”

“The last 2 minutes of that broke me,” another reflected. “For my generation, Kobe is our MJ. But the heartbreak, and the tipping point, is Gigi. No one that young should leave this Earth.”

“The video is 6:26 minutes long, which is cool because Kobe Bryant was drafted on 6/26/96,” noticed another eagle-eyed viewer.

As has quickly become a game-opening tradition since the tragic accident that took nine lives on Jan. 26, the Lakers and Blazers each committed orchestrated 24-second and 8-second violations on the court before commencing play. The violations were a nod to Bryant’s numbers.

Both numbers have been withdrawn from use by the Lakers since Bryant’s passing.

Shirts numbered “24” were draped over every seat surrounding the court as keepsakes for the game’s attendees. Usher later posted a moving photo of himself sitting in the stands amid the sea of yellow basketball shirts on Twitter. To date, the photo has been liked over 32,000 times.

Bryant and Usher pose together at the 2004 World Music Awards at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sept. 15, 2004. (©Getty Images | Kevin Winter)

In another photo shared by TSN Sports on Twitter, Gianna Bryant’s teammates, dressed in black in mourning for their late friend, sit courtside.

According to WSB-TV, Usher and fellow musician T.I. were among a number of artists petitioning for a change to the NBA logo to honor Bryant’s legacy in the days following his untimely death. All in attendance at Staples Center on Jan. 31 were doing their utmost to ensure that a valued player and adored friend’s legacy endures into the future.

Bryant warms up with daughter Gianna during the NBA All-Star Game at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Canada, on Feb. 14, 2016. (©Getty Images | Elsa)

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Author: Louise Bevan

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