Ellen broke down in tears as she remembered the basketball legend, who was killed along with his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed on Sunday morning in Calabasas, California.
“Today is Monday, and yesterday was Sunday,” Ellen began. “It happened to be my birthday and the Grammy Awards. I was nominated, I didn’t win. Not the point.
“Yesterday was supposed to be a celebratory day, and then we got tragic news about Kobe Bryant, and everything changed in a second. And that’s what I want to talk about.”
Struggling to speak through her tears, Ellen then urged viewers of her show to “celebrate life”.
“Life is short, and it’s fragile, and we don’t know how many birthdays we have,” she said.
“So just– you don’t have to have a birthday to celebrate, just celebrate life. And if you haven’t told someone you love them, do it now. Do it. Tell people you love them. Call your friends. Text your friends. Hug them. Kiss them.”
The helicopter in which Kobe was travelling in went down amid uncharacteristically foggy conditions 17 miles from its destination, the Mamba Sports Academy, where he and his daughter were scheduled to attend basketball camp.
Kobe had been a regular guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, giving her his exclusive first interview after famously retiring from the NBA in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history.
He last appeared on the daytime show in April last year, when he discussed his wife Vanessa who was still expecting their baby Capri, who is now seven months old.