The TV presenter shoots her programme in advance, so videoed her tribute on Monday, January 27, 2020 to air on Tuesday, following the basketball player's tragic death in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
Struggling to control her emotions as she remembered the sportsman, Ellen said, "Today is Monday, and yesterday was Sunday. It happened to be my birthday and the Grammy Awards. I was nominated, I didn't win. Not the point. Yesterday was supposed to be a celebratory day, and then we got tragic news about Kobe Bryant, and everything changed in a second. And 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. So just - you don't have to have a birthday to celebrate, just celebrate life. And if you haven't told someone you love them, do it now. Do it. Tell people you love them. Call your friends. Text your friends. Hug them. Kiss them. Be nice to people at the DMV. They're people. Be nice to them."
Numerous late night talk show hosts also paid tribute to Kobe and his daughter Gianna, who died alongside him in the crash. Opting not to have a live audience for his show in honour of the sporting legend, Jimmy Kimmel instead directly addressed viewers, saying, "Kobe was the last person you could ever imagine something like this happening to. He was so strong and so handsome and smart and energetic. He was a hero."
"And when I say that I don't mean a hero like real heroes like firefighters or doctors and nurses who actually save lives... but Kobe was a hero in the way Superman was a hero. He was so big it was almost like he was a fictional character. He was a real-life superhero with a costume and everything walking among us."
Finding it hard to hold back tears, Kimmel concluded, "This was a terrible loss for those families, for the Lakers, for Kobe's teammates, for his fans. There's no silver lining here. It's all bad, it's all sad. He was a bright light, and that's how I want to remember him."