Beyonce looked to the heavens as she honored her late friend Kobe Bryant by performing his favorite song XO, at the NBA star’s public memorial on Monday.

Taking to the stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, she opened the day’s proceedings in a dignified yet passionate style, watched by a 20,000-strong crowd in the sold out stadium, and many more thousands at home via video link.

But fans noticed a slight change to the lyrics as she delicately changed the lyrics to XO, swapping ‘crashing into you’, for ‘laughing into you’. 

And as she finished her second Halo, Beyonce sang directly to Kobe’s widow. ‘I can feel it / He will be your / She will be your halo,’ sang the 38-year-old, again changing the lyrics.  

Tribute: Beyonce is seen performing during the tribute to Kobe Bryant on Monday

Tribute: Beyonce is seen performing during the tribute to Kobe Bryant on Monday

Singing to her friend: Beyonce had known Kobe and his wife since at least 1999, when he made a cameo appearance in Destiny's Child's video for Bug-a-Boo

Singing to her friend: Beyonce had known Kobe and his wife since at least 1999, when he made a cameo appearance in Destiny's Child's video for Bug-a-Boo

Singing to her friend: Beyonce had known Kobe and his wife since at least 1999, when he made a cameo appearance in Destiny’s Child’s video for Bug-a-Boo

Supported: The singer had a whole host

Supported: The singer had a whole host 

Introduced as ‘a very close friend of the Bryant family’, Beyonce directed her song towards the spot where Kobe’s wife Vanessa Bryant sat with her family.   

‘I’m here because I love Kobe and this was one of his favorite songs,’ Beyonce shared. Pointing up to the sky, she added: ‘I want you to sing it so loud, they’ll hear your love.’

Clearly emotional, she nonetheless managed to smile as she looked at Vanessa. 

Beyonce had known Kobe and his wife since at least 1999, when he made a cameo appearance in Destiny’s Child’s video for Bug-a-Boo.

After Kobe’s death, Beyonce shared her own tribute on social media, writing: ‘I will continue to diligently pray for your Queens. You are deeply missed beloved Kobe.’ 

Celebration of life: Beyonce looks to the heavens as she honors her late friend Kobe Bryant at his public memorial in Los Angeles on Monday; she is seen on television

Celebration of life: Beyonce looks to the heavens as she honors her late friend Kobe Bryant at his public memorial in Los Angeles on Monday; she is seen on television

She was later pictured comforting Vanessa as they watched the memorial. 

Photos of the event were delayed until the singer could approve the images. Notoriously protective of her public image, the carefully selected shots were released hours after the memorial concluded.

Some photographers complained they had been asked not to shoot the superstar’s performance, reported Page Six

Beyonce generally skips any red carpet appearance and instead releases her own, edited images from events, via her website and social media, 

This has been her policy since 2013, when the singer’s publicist asked agencies or websites to remove ‘unflattering’ photos of Beyonce taken during her energetic performance at the Super Bowl.

The pop star wore a golden suit as she gave passionate performances of her hits XO and Halo, supported by dozens of back up musicians.

The pop star wore a golden suit as she gave passionate performances of her hits XO and Halo, supported by dozens of back up musicians.

Tribute: The pop star wore a golden suit as she gave passionate performances of her hits XO and Halo, supported by dozens of back up musicians

Looking skyward: Beyonce gave a powerful performance

Looking skyward: Beyonce gave a powerful performance

The sold-out service took place at the downtown arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 17 seasons of his two-decade NBA caree

The sold-out service took place at the downtown arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 17 seasons of his two-decade NBA caree

The sold-out service took place at the downtown arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 17 seasons of his two-decade NBA career. Bryant and his daughter were among nine people killed January 26 in a helicopter crash.   

Vanessa Bryant offered a poignant portrait of her NBA superstar husband and their adored daughter at the sold-out service.

Speaking at times through tears, the 37-year-old praised her husband’s devotion as she addressed the thousands of fans gathered at Staples Center to remember Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna.

‘God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other,’ Vanessa Bryant said. ‘He had to bring them home to have them together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi.’

Moving: Vanessa Bryant honored her daughter Gianna and husband Kobe in a speech

Moving: Vanessa Bryant honored her daughter Gianna and husband Kobe in a speech

After Jimmy Kimmel welcomed the crowd, Vanessa Bryant remembered the family’s life with Gianna and her three siblings and then eulogized her husband. They had been together since 1999.

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‘He was the most amazing husband,’ she said. 

‘Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words. I was fire. He was ice. Vice versa at times. … He was my everything.’  

Powerful: Looking skyward as she sang, she blew kisses into the crowd, where Kobe's wife Vanessa Bryant sat with her family

Powerful: Looking skyward as she sang, she blew kisses into the crowd, where Kobe’s wife Vanessa Bryant sat with her family

Remembered: Beyonce had 'Gigi' and 'Kobe' painted on her nails

Remembered: Beyonce had ‘Gigi’ and ‘Kobe’ painted on her nails 

Fundraiser: Money from ticket sales was for the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation

Fundraiser: Money from ticket sales was for the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation

Farewell: Beyonce was a personal friend of Kobe'

Farewell: Beyonce was a personal friend of Kobe’

The mourners included Lakers greats such as Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Pau Gasol. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson and dozens of current NBA players, including Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles natives James Harden, Russell Westbrook and DeMar DeRozan. Celebrities such as Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez also attended.

Vanessa was followed on the podium by basketball stars Diana Taurasi and Sabrina Ionescu. Kobe was a passionate advocate for women’s basketball, and Gigi was a promising young player.

‘If I represented the present of the women’s game, Gigi represented the future, and Kobe knew it,’ said Ionescu, the Oregon star who was mentored by Bryant.

In loving memory: Alicia Keys performed an emotional rendition of the Beethoven classic Moonlight Sonata during a tribute to the late basketball star's life held in LA on Monday

In loving memory: Alicia Keys performed an emotional rendition of the Beethoven classic Moonlight Sonata during a tribute to the late basketball star’s life held in LA on Monday

The goodbye: Christina Aguilera was the last performer at the celebration of life ceremony for Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna held inside the Staple Center in Los Angeles on Monday

The goodbye: Christina Aguilera was the last performer at the celebration of life ceremony for Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna held inside the Staple Center in Los Angeles on Monday

Somber look: The 39-year-old Genie In A Bottle singer had her long blonde hair worn down and parted in the middle. And the star added deep red lipstick as she sang Ave Maria

Somber look: The 39-year-old Genie In A Bottle singer had her long blonde hair worn down and parted in the middle. And the star added deep red lipstick as she sang Ave Maria

University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma was followed by Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s longtime agent before he became the Lakers’ general manager in 2017. Pelinka was Gigi Bryant’s godfather, and their families were close. 

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Pelinka referred to the day of the crash as ‘when the axis of the world seemed to shift forever, for all of us.’

He also revealed that Bryant had texted him only moments before the crash, asking for help in securing an internship with a baseball agent for teenager Alexis Altobelli, who lost her parents and younger sister in the crash moments later. 

The service began just hours after Vanessa sued the owner of the helicopter that crashed in the fog last month. The wrongful-death lawsuit claimed that the pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent by flying in cloudy conditions. 

Support: Beyonce sat at Vanessa's side to support her as they mourned Kobe

Support: Beyonce sat at Vanessa’s side to support her as they mourned Kobe

Packed: There was not an empty seat in the sold out stadium

Packed: There was not an empty seat in the sold out stadium

Public ceremony: A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on February 7

Public ceremony: A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on February 7

At the arena, fans were given a program containing photos, a purple KB pin and a T-shirt with photos of the father and daughter. The concourse was a sea of purple, gold and black clothing. 

Money from ticket sales was to be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in underserved communities and teaches sports to girls and women.

A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on February 7.

Much missed: Kanye West, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, and Kris Jenner sit in the crowd

Much missed: Kanye West, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, and Kris Jenner sit in the crowd

Tearful: Jennifer Lopez watches her friend Vanessa speak

Tearful: Jennifer Lopez watches her friend Vanessa speak

Famous friends: Paula Abdul was among those remembering Kobe

Famous friends: Paula Abdul was among those remembering Kobe

Fellow sportsmen: Michael Phelps and  his wife, former Miss California, Nicole Johnson

Fellow sportsmen: Michael Phelps and  his wife, former Miss California, Nicole Johnson

Snoop Dogg sits in the crowd, lit by purple light in honor of Kobe

Snoop Dogg sits in the crowd, lit by purple light in honor of Kobe



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