The hosts both took time on their respective talk shows to dedicate some words to the NBA star and friend they held dear.
On Monday, January 27, Fallon, 45, shared a memory of his first encounter with Bryant, 41, which took place roughly 24 years ago.
“Kobe was such a life force, so strong and creative and inspired that in my head I thought that he would live forever,” Fallon said.
“I met Kobe when he was 17 and I was 21. He was a rookie on the Lakers and I was just starting out on the comedy scene in L.A,” he continued. “We were at a party and we didn’t know anyone at the party, so we just started talking.”
After learning of Bryant’s occupation and interest in poetry, the two “hit it off” and eventually ended up going on a beer run together for the party host. When they arrived at Sun Dot, Fallon recalled, the store was closed. Despite requesting the beer right near the door, they were denied entry until Kobe showed off his Lakers ID and saved the day and the party. They walked away with five cases of beer.
Years later, when “Kobe went on to become a legend” and Fallon’s own career skyrocketed, the show host said the two still remained close.
“When we’d run into each other over the years, we’d laugh about the night we first met,” Fallon said. “We’d laugh at all the good things that happened since and we’d laugh at how much fun it was to raise kids. Kobe had four daughters and I had two daughters and today he and one of his daughters are gone.”
“Let’s honor Kobe, Gianna and the other lives lost,” he continued on his show. “Love your family, love your teammates and outwork everyone else in the gym. To Vanessa and all those affected by this tragedy, we love you and we’ll always be there for all of you. Kobe, when we meet again, we’re going on a beer run.”
In an episode that aired Tuesday, January 28, DeGeneres also got sentimental in front of her audience when addressing the late baller’s death — which incidentally happened on the same day as her 62nd birthday and the 2020 Grammy Awards.
“Today is Monday. Yesterday was Sunday, and it happened to be my birthday and the Grammy Awards. I was nominated. I didn’t win. Not the point,” DeGeneres said. “Yesterday was a celebratory day and we got tragic news about Kobe Bryant and everything changed in a second.”
“That’s what I want to talk about: Life is short and it’s fragile. And we don’t know how many birthdays we have,” she continued. “We don’t have to have a birthday to celebrate. Just celebrate life.”
At that point, the daytime show host couldn’t contain her tears and had trouble speaking without crying.
“If you haven’t told someone you love them, do it now. Tell people you love them. Call your friends. Text your friends. Hug them. Kiss them,” she said before showing appreciation to her Portia de Rossi, and everybody she works with.
As RadarOnline.com readers know, Bryant and his teen daughter Gianna were among the nine people killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26. The group was en route to Kobe’s Mamba Academy for a basketball practice game when the helicopter crashed into a mountain in Calabasas and erupted in fire amid foggy conditions.
Following his death, celebrities, including longtime friend and fellow basketball star LeBron James, have taken to social media to mourn, also sending their condolences to all families affected by the tragedy.