Jimmy Fallon Pays Heartbreaking Tribute to Kobe Bryant and His Daughter Gianna

Jimmy Fallon paid a tearful tribute to Kobe Bryant on Monday night, just over a day after the NBA legend died in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles.

The 41-year-old and eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, lost their lives when the helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California, northwest of Los Angeles.

There were no survivors after the crash and a federal investigation to shed light on the causes of the incident is currently underway.

Bryant's death sparked an outpour of emotion, with fellow NBA stars past and present, athletes from different sports, fans and entertainment stars all paying their respects to the five-time NBA champion.

On Monday night, Fallon shared his tribute, recounting a touching tale about the first time he met Bryant. At the time, the late-night host was a 21-year-old comedian who had just arrived in Los Angeles, while the 17-year-old Bryant had just joined the Los Angeles Lakers.

The two met at a party where neither knew many of the other guests in attendance and immediately hit it off, with Fallon joining Bryant when the latter volunteered to make a beer run for the group.

From that moment on, a friendship blossomed and Fallon spoke of being completely distraught by news of Bryant's passing.

"We'd laugh at all the good things that happened since and we'd laugh at how much fun it was to raise kids and all the stupid mistakes we made trying to figure out how to be good dads," he said choking back the tears.

"And Kobe [Bryant] had four daughters and I had two daughters. And today, he and one of his girls are gone but I think I knew Kobe enough to know that he rose to any challenge by digging deeper and getting back to work so let's honor Kobe, Gianna, and the other lives that were lost yesterday by following his example."

Bryant's relentless work ethic and drive—the so-called "Mamba mentality" as they became known throughout his career—were repeatedly referenced in the tributes following his death.

Fallon's was no different, as the comedian suggested the best way to honor the Lakers star's memory was to follow his example in every day life.

"Love your family, love your teammates, and outwork everyone else in the gym," he continued.

"To [Bryant's wife] Vanessa and all those affected by this tragedy, we love you and will always be there for all of you. Kobe, when we meet again, we're going on a beer run."

Fallon's tribute came shortly after LeBron James broke his silence on the tragedy on Monday night, sharing a lengthy post on Instagram in which he explained he was "heartbroken and devastated".

On Saturday night, James passed Bryant in third place on the list of all-time NBA top scorers, and vowed to carry on his legacy.

Meanwhile, the NBA opted to postpone the Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers, which was scheduled for Tuesday night.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, watch an NBA basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks on December 21, 2019 at Barclays Center in New York City. Nets won 122-112. Bryant and his daughter both perished in a helicopter crashed outside Los Angeles on Sunday morning. Paul Bereswill/Getty