The deaths of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and the others who lost their lives in the helicopter crash sent waves through the sports world and beyond. Today, the lives of the NBA legend and his daughter are being honored with a public memorial service being held at Staples Center. The show opened with a performance from Beyonce, and later in the program, Alicia Keys (who previously honored Bryant at the Grammys) took to a piano and performed Boothoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” accompanied by a small string section.
The song selection is meaningful because Bryant once learned to play the song by ear for his wife, Vanessa Bryant. Indeed, there are videos of Bryant performing the song, and it was previously reported in 2016 that Bryant learned to play the composition in 2011. Bryant told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, “I wanted to play something nice for Vanessa. […] Sitting down and taking lessons would be too easy. So I taught myself by ear. […] That’s the song I wanted to learn. There’s so much beauty and agony.”
After Keys, Jimmy Kimmel took the stage and cracked a joke about the performance that alluded to Bryant’s competitive nature, saying, “I have to believe that Kobe right now is looking down from Heaven and going, ‘I am determined to learn to play ‘Moonlight Sonata’ better than Alicia Keys.'”
As of this post, the memorial is still being livestreamed, so watch it as it’s happening here.