The talk show host opened Monday’s episode of The Wendy Williams Show with a tribute to Bryant, who died Sunday along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash. He was 41.
“To do a show like this is very, very hard on days like this,” she said. “What I really dug about Kobe … I don’t know if I even saw him play a game, but I just knew, 20 years in the game, he’s a living legend.”
Williams, 55, became emotional while discussing Bryant’s legacy, not only as an athlete but as a man.
“He really stood for putting his money into homelessness and also for girls and women playing basketball, which is a big deal,” she said. “He rose to the occasion of being a good husband and a good father.”
Williams admitted that she considered canceling Monday’s show in the wake of the news.
“I’m like, ‘Okay, I want to take off tomorrow, I can’t even deal with this,’ ” she said. “But I have to do the show because somehow this stupid show does make people come out of their own sadness, at least for an hour.”
“I said, we’ve got to reconfigure the show,” she added, saying she decided to cancel a fashion segment. “You’re alive! We all look great!”
Revealing that she learned of Bryant’s death when she was on the phone with her parents planning a family trip, Williams said the tragedy made her stop and appreciate her life.
“That’s the teachable lesson,” she said as tears ran down her face. “Live each day like it’s your last, not in a bad way. Hug the people you love. Sometimes, you got to let bygones be bygones.”
Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and three of their four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.