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Beyoncé opens Kobe Bryant memorial with emotional musical tribute

Kobe Bryant's public memorial began with an emotional musical tribute from Grammy-winning artist Beyoncé.
Jay-Z and Beyonce released the nine-track album "Everything Is Love" Saturday, June 16, 2018, on the Tidal music streaming service that Jay-Z partially owns. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

LOS ANGELES (TEGNA) — Kobe Bryant's public memorial began with an emotional musical tribute from Grammy-winning artist Beyoncé.

Thousands of mourners have gathered at a sold-out Staples Center to say farewell to the basketball superstar and his daughter Gianna. Kobe and Gianna Bryant died along with seven others on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash.

Beyoncé opened the celebration of life with a rendition of her song "XO."

"I'm here because I love Kobe and this was one of his favorite songs," she said after singing the first few lines of the song. The singer then asked the audience to sing with her as she began to sing the song again from the beginning.

Following "XO," the singer also sang a rendition of her song "Halo."

A montage of Kobe's best basketball moments played after her performance, as Maroon 5's "Memories" played.

The ceremony is being held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage, honoring one of Kobe's two uniform numbers. Kobe's wife and Gianna's mother, Vanessa Bryant, chose Feb. 24 (2/24) for the date of the memorial to honor both Kobe's uniform number and Gianna's. Gianna wore No. 2 on her basketball teams.

Kobe and Gianna were laid to rest in a private ceremony earlier this month.

Proceeds from the tickets to the event will go to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in underserved communities and teachers sports to girls and women.