"This is for Kobe", international recording artist Lizzo said, before her performance to kick off the annual awards show.
The star-studded crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which Alicia Keys termed the "house that Kobe built", was in a visibly sombre mood.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed to reporters on Sunday that the Calabasas helicopter crash led to the death of all nine people on board. The sheriff refused to release the identities of the people killed in the crash.
Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Calabasas officials have confirmed that the crash claimed the life of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria-Onore.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are currently investigating the cause of the deadly helicopter accident.
Across the world there has been an outpouring of disbelief and grief following the news of the passing of the NBA legend.
US President Donald Trump said on Twitter that the accident "is terrible news".
Reports are that basketball great Kobe Bryant and three others have been killed in a helicopter crash in California. That is terrible news!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020
"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day", former US president Barack Obama wrote on Twitter.
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 26, 2020
Former teammate and one of Bryant's closest friends, Shaquille O'Neal, took to Twitter to express his condolences.
Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah. pic.twitter.com/BHBPN5Wq8V— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/pigHywq3c1— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
Russian hockey star Alexander Ovechkin also paid his respects to Bryant on Twitter.
I’m so heartbroken. cant believe...Blessed to have chance to meet you. RIP Legend. 🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/TlpRZdVpu7— Alex Ovechkin (@ovi8) January 26, 2020
The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs in one of the first NBA games following the tragedy, honored Bryant by each deliberately running out the 24-second shot clock in memory of the basketball great's jersey number. Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar similarly held up the number 24 with his fingers after converting a penalty in Ligue 1 fixture against Lille OSC.
During his illustrious 20-year career, Bryant was a five-time NBA champion, two-time Olympic champion, the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the 2007/08 season, and an 18-time NBA All-Star.
The two-time NBA Finals MVP was also never far from the entertainment world, maintaining a close relationship with a number of Hollywood stars, and in 2018 won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for 'Dear Basketball'.
He is survived by his wife Vanessa Laine Bryant, and three daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, an infant.