Music's biggest stars gathered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Sunday evening for the 62nd Grammy Awards. If only for the evening, the annual event owns television and social media, from fashion and faux pas on the red carpet to performances and politics on stage. Only this year was different. Despite the bright lights, this year was darker.
Hours before the big event, a bigger LA story broke. A story also with ties to the Staples Center, to great performances and to records.
Five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star, Kobe Bryant died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, and 7 others. There were no survivors in the Calabasas, CA crash. The FAA and NTSB are investigating.
Icons in sport, entertainment and politics took to social media to share in the grief, memories and support for the families of those lost in the tragic accident. In one such post on Twitter, former President Barack Obama wrote,
"Kobe was a legend on the court and
just getting started in what would have been
just as meaningful a second act.”
The second act that former President Obama was speaking of includes Kobe's work alongside his wife, Vanessa, on behalf of L.A.'s homeless.
In 2012 the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation helped fund renovations at My Friend’s Place, a drop-in centre for homeless youth in Hollywood. The charity serves about 1,700 individuals annually.
At the time, speaking on homelessness, Kobe Bryant said, "This isn’t a popular topic or a popular issue. This issue gets pushed into the back-burner because it’s easy to put the blame on those that are homeless and say 'you made that bad decision' and that’s the reason why you are where you are and it’s your fault."
Bryant continued, "We all make mistakes. To just sit back and watch this, and to wash your hands of it by saying that’s your fault, that’s not right and it’s not fair.”
In a 2012 ESPN interview, Bryant recalled seeing homeless people while walking the streets outside the Forum at the beginning of his career and more recently at the Staples Center. He admitted that the epidemic became "like white noise" for him until he heard chilling statistics about homelessness in Los Angeles a year earlier.
A 2011 report stated there are 51,340 homeless people in Los Angeles County on a given day.
When it comes to homelessness, Bryant says, "It’s not something celebrities easily rally around but this is something that we wanted to change. This is something we’re all going to have to fight. It’s going to be a long fight but I’m in it for the long haul.”
Homelessness “puts things into perspective,” Kobe adds. “At the end of the day there’s only so many interviews you can do and stories you can write. You have to do something that carries more weight and has more significance and purpose to it."
Kobe Bryant was 41.