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Jimmy Kimmel Sheds Tears Mourning Kobe Bryant: His Death Was ‘a Punch in the Gut’

Jimmy Kimmel dedicated his entire Monday night show to Kobe Bryant as he spoke about how emotionally overwhelmed he was by the NBA superstar’s death over the weekend.

Bryant, his teenage daughter Gianna, and seven others perished on Sunday after a fiery helicopter crash in California. Kimmel had Bryant on his program 15 times throughout his life, so the ABC funnyman announced at the top of his show there was no studio audience that night, and he was devoting his time to Bryant because “going forward with a comedy show didn’t feel right considering what happened.”

“That was a punch in the gut for many of us,” said Kimmel. “I know this might not make sense, but he was just the last person you could have ever imagined something like this happening to.”

Kimmel went on to eulogize Bryant as “strong,” “handsome, “smart,” “energetic,” and “talented beyond reason.”

“He was a hero,” Kimmel explained. “He was a hero in the way Superman is a hero. It was almost like he was a fictional character, a real-life superhero with a costume and everything, walking amongst us.”

Kimmel went on to talk about his relationship with Bryant and the kind of person he was on and off the basketball court. As Kimmel spoke about how Bryant was a devoted father and family man, he said Bryant frequently checked up on him two years ago when Kimmel’s son was born with heart complications that required major surgery.

“I know he wasn’t a perfect person. I understand that. My intention is not to canonize him or to make judgments about things I don’t know anything about. But I will say, he loved his family, he worked very hard and he brought a lot of joy to a lot of people in this city. And we’re going to miss him.”

Kimmel choked up as he ended the monologue by acknowledging the people who died in the crash alongside Bryant, and then he spent the rest of the show rolling archive footage from Bryant’s 15 appearances.

Watch above, via ABC.

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