Jennifer Hudson, Magic Johnson Pay Tribute to Kobe Bryant at NBA All-Star Game

Nam Huh/Associated Press
Jennifer Hudson performs as an image of Kobe Bryant is displayed behind her.

The singer kicked off this year's game, while also remembering Bryant's daughter Gianna along with John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; Sarah and Payton Chester; Christina Mauser; and Ara Zobayan.

The 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago began on a somber note Sunday, with Jennifer Hudson performing a special tribute to Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the seven others who were killed in a helicopter crash last month.

Ahead of player introductions, Hudson performed an emotional rendition of the 1934 song "For All We Know," which has been recorded by artists such as Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and more.

Hudson was introduced by Magic Johnson, who spoke about both fellow Los Angeles Laker Bryant and David Stern, the former NBA commissioner who died last month.

"We lost two NBA family members who meant so much to the league to our fans and also to communities all over the country," Johnson said. "We'll never see another basketball player quite like Kobe. Scoring 81 points in one game, scoring 60 points in his last game, and then winning five NBA championships."

He continued, "But what I'm really proud about when we think about Kobe Bryant, there's millions of people in Los Angeles who don't have a home. Kobe was fighting to get them homes and shelter every single day. He was passionate about that. He was also passionate about being a great father, husband, filmmaker — young man won an Oscar! — so we all are hurting. This is a tough time for the whole NBA family."

Bryant also got a shout-out from Common during a tribute to the city of Chicago and trailblazers that were born there. 

"A king named Kobe Bryant who wore purple and gold / Twenty-four hours a day, you'll put in work / Forget the salary / And being from Chicago, you can possess that Mamba mentality," Common rapped. "And that's dedication / And that's the fight / So even in the darkest of times, you'll feel Kobe's light."

During the halftime show, Chance the Rapper honored Bryant and his daughter by performing "I Was a Rock," the unreleased song he initially wrote and performed at the 2016 ESPYs as a tribute to late boxing champion Muhammad Ali.

Teams helmed by LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo competed in the 69th annual All-Star Game, which closed out the NBA's annual weekend of basketball festivities in Chicago. The game's MVP award, which was recently re-named to include Bryant's name, went to LA Clippers small forward Kawhi Leonard.

The game's format looked strikingly different than it has in the past — particularly in the fourth quarter, which was untimed and instead had a final target score of 24, Bryant's jersey number — in an effort to honor the late former NBA star and the other victims of the crash.

Players on Antetokounmpo's team also donned No. 24 on their jerseys, while James' team wore No. 2 for Gianna.