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"I didn't believe it at first," the DJ told Ryan Seacrest of learning of the NBA legend's sudden passing in a helicopter crash on the red carpet at the 2020 Grammys on Sunday. "I still don't believe it. It's devastating, it's sad."
With two children of his own, Diplo couldn't help but reflect on the tragedy through the lens of fatherhood.
"I can't imagine losing one of my children or a father or a family member," the songwriter and producer said. "He was so young, my age, 41, and he had so much more to do."
Set to perform a remix of "Old Town Road" with Lil Nas X during the show, Diplo talked about the emotional weight of performing in the same stadium Bryant played in as a Los Angeles Laker for decades.
"To be here at Staples right now and to look up and you see his jersey up there," he said, "you just feel the energy because we're doing the Grammys right here, but 82 games a year they're playing in the stadium and in this arena and Kobe brought this energy to Los Angeles for 20 years. This is his backyard. This is his home."
And Diplo said Bryant's energy will be felt in the Staples Center throughout the ceremony and beyond.
"Someone like that, he transcends iconic. So he's going to live forever," he explained. "I think he's going to be around forever. I think in this building you have so much creative energy and even an athlete like him that's a creative genius. He's one of us."
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were killed on Sunday morning when his private helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California, E! News has confirmed.
Police said in a press conference that according to the flight manifest, nine people were on board the aircraft. They said there were no survivors. As of Sunday afternoon, authorities have only named the retired NBA star, one of the greatest players of all-time, as one of the victims. The crash remains under investigation.
Bryant was married to Vanessa Bryant and in addition to Gianna, they had three other daughters—Natalia, 17; Bianka, 3; and 7-month-old baby Capri.
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