Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's rendition of "See You Again" had a lot of fans teary-eyed on Friday night, both in the STAPLES Center and watching at home. They played the emotional ballad in memory of Kobe Bryant, who passed away on Sunday in a tragic helicopter crash. To many, it was the perfect way to honor him.
Khalifa and Puth were just one of the acts to perform in Bryant's honor on Sunday night, while his old team the Los Angeles Lakers played their first game since his passing. The night began with Usher singing "Amazing Grace," followed by a cellist playing "Hallelujah" while a video montage of Bryant rolled on the jumbotron.
The night also included a speech from LeBron James, who spoke about Bryant's legacy and the extreme shock of his passing. Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash on his way to his Mamba Academy, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, six other passengers and pilot. He was just 41 years old.
This may be a part of the reason Khalifa's "See You Again" struck such a chord with so many. The song was originally written as a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker, who died in a car accident in 2013. It was included in the movie Furious 7 — the first in the Fast & Furious franchise after Walker's passing. Walker, too died young at 40 years old, leaving behind a shocked and grieving fan base.
After the performance, Puth took to Twitter to reflect on the performance. He admitted that the emotions were compounded by the significance of two tragic deaths.
"It was such an honor to sing 'See You Again' for Kobe and Paul in one day," he wrote. "Wiz and I flew across the country and just barely made it to the game! Thank you to everyone that helped make this happen today and to the LAPD for helping us get there on time."
Here is what fans were saying about Khalifa's tribute to Bryant on Friday.
Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth are performing a song at halftime. You know the one.— Christian Rivas (@RadRivas) February 1, 2020
Some fans actually saw this song coming ahead of time when they heard that Khalifa and Puth were performing at Friday's halftime show. They posted about how they were gearing up for the emotional onslaught ahead of time.
Wiz got the three-peat jacket on 💜💛 pic.twitter.com/QviQc6GDow— BATTLES NBA™ (@BattlesNBA) February 1, 2020
If the song were not enough, Khalifa's outfit choice sent viewers into sobs. The rapper wore the iconic "three-peat jacket" from the Lakers' 2002 NBA Championship. The leather jacket was worn by Bryant back in the early days of his career, when he was first establishing himself as the cultural icon he grew to be.
This song is so heartbreaking. Deep sense of loss.— Sonu Kaole🇮🇳 (@SonK0319) February 1, 2020
Many fans on Friday night marveled at the impeccable song choice of this performance. Once it was playing, they realized how apt it was for Bryant's tribute.
"This song always gets me," one person tweeted with a crying emoji.
Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth performed "See You Again" during halftime. pic.twitter.com/9hf1BBpRjR— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 1, 2020
Khalifa and Puth's performance reminded many fans of the fragility of life in general. It prompted many calls to be open with loved ones about what they mean to you while you have the chance, since you never know when you might lose it.
This Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth performance for Kobe’s Tribute got me like— mawiz (@mawizh) February 1, 2020
It could not be overstated how overwhelmed fans felt when seeing this tribute to Bryant in person. Already pushed to the breaking point, the song had many people in tears before the first chorus was over.
Some fans were quite surprised by their own emotions on Friday night, remarking that Bryant had meant more to them than they realized. Some wondered how they could shed so many tears for someone they never really met.
Much respect to Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth for their performance. I know this shit was not easy man. I heard it in Wiz voice. 🥺— 🇨🇺 (@IvanJrPerez) February 1, 2020
Finally, many viewers were thinking of Khalifa and Puth, and what their emotional state must be. They commended the two musicians for putting on such a heartwrenching performance when they were likely grieving themselves.