Gianna Bryant and Kobe Bryant were honored during the In Memoriam onstage during the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Presented by BET, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2020.
Gianna Bryant and Kobe Bryant were honored during the In Memoriam onstage during the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Presented by BET, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2020.
Photo: Aaron J. Thornton (Getty Images)

BET Networks will celebrate the life and memory of late basketball legend Kobe Bryant in a special way.

The Black-centric ViacomCBS-owned network announced its plans to pay tribute to the iconic five-time NBA champion who perished with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a fatal helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

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On Feb. 24, a programming block will begin at 1 p.m. ET with BET Remembers: Kobe Bryant, a live commercial-free broadcast of Bryant’s memorial service, anchored by author, activist and Black Coffee host Marc Lamont Hill, alongside sports journalist Jemele Hill.

Both hosts (no known relation) will offer their insights and personal commentary about their individual experiences with the former Los Angeles Lakers star throughout the years.

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“Kobe Bryant is not only one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, but also an extraordinary father, husband, entrepreneur and humanitarian,” Lamont Hill said. “Although I’m deeply pained by the loss of my childhood friend, I’m honored to be part of BET’s coverage of his memorial. Through our tears, we plan to bring Kobe home in a way that shows our deep love and admiration.”

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“I watched Kobe as a journalist and fan for years, before I got to know him on a personal level,” said former ESPN anchor Hill. “He was one of the most driven athletes in the history of professional sports. He wasn’t just trying to be a better player, but a better student, a better friend, a better teammate, a better husband and a better father.”

The public memorial service celebrating the life of Bryant and his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, is a ticketed event that is scheduled to be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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It will be simulcast on BET, BET.com and all BET social media channels, a rep confirmed.

Following the memorial special, the basic cable network will air the Showtime documentary Kobe Bryant’s Muse, which looks at his illustrious 18-year career.

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Afterward, another special, Kobe: Father, Husband, Legend, will include rare footage and reflections from former teammates and friends including Rihanna, L.L. Cool J, Chris Paul, Shaquille O’Neal, Matt Barnes, Alex Rodriquez and many others.

That portion of programming will be presented with Entertainment Tonight.

“I am grateful that the BET family had the opportunity to give Kobe his flowers while he was still with us, and we will continue to do so, as his legacy very greatly impacted ours,” BET President Scott Mills said with the announcement.

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“From recognizing his tenth consecutive NBA All-Star championship on 106th & Park in 2008 to presenting him with the BET Humanitarian Award in 2002 and learning about what shapes his #MambaMentality during Genius Talks at BET Experience 2015, I’m so glad we were and continue to be able to celebrate him as the leader and legend he was to us all,” he added. “Our prayers are with the Bryant family during this difficult time.”

During Saturday’s NAACP Image Awards, a special tribute took place during the ceremony following the In Memoriam segment.

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The Reginald Hudlin-produced awards show highlighted the athlete with a visual presentation of images from his career, opening with an empty basketball court onstage.

An audio clip featuring Bryant thanking his fans at a Lakers game played as images of the athlete appeared onscreen.

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Two banners featuring Bryant’s jersey numbers 8 and 24 were later revealed—with a photo of Bryant and Gianna sitting courtside at a game then appeared.

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!

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