Vanessa Bryant joined TIME during the magazine’s Person of the Year presentation that aired Thursday night on NBC. The mama gave a touching speech about the ‘profound loss’ felt ‘across the world’ in 2020 and paid tribute to her husband Kobe Bryant and their daughter Gianna. The segment introduced the magazine’s ‘In Memoriam’ on December 10. Kobe and Gianna died tragically in an helicopter accident on January 26 of this year.
Vanessa’s speech paved the way for an emotional segment dedicated to those who have died in 2020. “Words cannot do justice to the grief we felt this year. At every level of human connection from across the world to across the table, we experienced profound loss,” Vanessa began. “We said goodbye to husbands, daughters, wives, sons, grandparents, friends and national heroes. And we continue to count the lives surrendered to this cruel pandemic, which has claimed well over a million souls, worldwide. Tonight, we mourn the people we all knew and the many we never will,” she continued, adding, “May our collective grief unite us on the path forward.”
A moving rendition of “Over the Rainbow” by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott followed Vanessa’s introduction. The performance served as the background to a photo tribute to some of the lives lost in 2020 that changed the world. The video montage began with a quote from Kobe, as images of him and Gianna showed on the screen. “Everything is a game 7 and when you approach every practice and game with that mentality it bleeds into the rest of the guys,” Kobe said. Along with Kobe and Gianni, photos of Regis Philbin, Sean Connery, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Trebek, Chadwick Boseman, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more were displayed.
TIME awarded Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the prestigious 2020 Person of the Year. Harris told TIME, “My mother had many sayings. She would say, ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things; make sure you’re not the last. Which is why [in my victory speech], I said, ’I will be the first, but I will not be the last.’ And that’s about legacy. That’s about leaving the door more open than it was when you walked in.”
Additionally, TIME announced Lakers star, LeBron James, as their 2020 Athlete of the Year, writing on Twitter, “What LeBron James has done is going to forever change the athlete’s role in society.” The magazine also named the K-pop band BTS the 2020 Entertainer of the Year.