Christina Aguilera sings poignant ‘Ave Maria’ prayer in honour of Kobe Bryant

25 February 2020, 12:09

By Helena Asprou

The singer performed a heartfelt version of Schubert’s classic prayer during a memorial service for Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, after they tragically passed away in a helicopter crash last month.

Pop icon Christina Aguilera has paid tribute to legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant with a beautiful rendition of ‘Ave Maria’.

The Grammy Award winner performed Schubert’s classic prayer, in Latin, during a Celebration of Life memorial service for Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, at LA’s Staples Center yesterday evening.

Owning the song, whose title translates as ‘Hail Mary’, with her familiar combination of breathy vocals and powerful high notes, the 39-year-old singer clearly moved her audience of 20,000 people – which included Beyoncé Knowles and Alicia Keys.

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Surrounded by red roses and white candles, Aguilera was joined on stage by a string quartet and a harpist, as an orchestra – and a touching ‘in memoriam’ video – played on behind them.

It was a fitting tribute to Bryant, who off the court was known to be a music-lover by his fans – in 2017, he worked with legendary composer John Williams to create a short film about his love of basketball, and regularly tweeted about his love of Beethoven.

The memorial service was opened by Beyoncé, who sang a heartfelt version of ‘Halo’, while Alicia Keys performed Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ on the piano.

Speaking on a podium to the audience, Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, said: “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together.

“I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was. The kind of man who wanted to teach the future generations to be better.”

Bryant died in a helicopter crash in California on January 26, 2020, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others.

All money made from ticket sales at the memorial will be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports under-served young people and women in sports.