The comedian started the taping of Tuesday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show with an emotional monologue talking about Kobe’s untimely death. DeGeneres — who turned 62 on Jan. 26, the day the former NBA player died in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven other people — began her speech by thanking the crowd for attending the taping before reflecting how “life is short.”
“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 joked as she teared up. “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.”
DeGeneres then tearfully encouraged viewers to reach out to love ones while they’re still alive.
“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.
The Emmy winner ended her monologue by expressing her appreciation for wife Portia de Rossi as well as her staff, “I know that I’m lucky to have a wife who loves me so much, even though I don’t have a Grammy. I get to come to work every single day with people who make me laugh. I love everybody I work with.”
DeGeneres also paid tribute to Kobe on Sunday, writing on her Twitter, “Like everyone, I’m stunned and saddened by the news about Kobe Bryant. My heart is broken for his wife and family.”
Kobe, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, were two of nine victims who perished in a deadly helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, California.
Sarah Chester and her daughter, eighth-grader Payton, the head basketball coach at Orange Coast College John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa, girls basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan were also on the aircraft during the incident. There were no survivors.
Kobe and Gianna are survived by his wife Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.