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Ellen DeGeneres offers passionate plea in wake of Kobe Bryant’s death: “Just celebrate life”

Christian Petersen/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Ellen DeGeneres delivered a tearful and heartfelt tribute to the late Lakers great Kobe Bryant on Monday’s special episode of The Ellen Show.

“I have mentioned before that we tape the show in advance,” explains DeGeneres before exhaling loudly to gather herself while battling back tears. 

The Finding Dory star emotionally continues, “Today is Monday, and yesterday was Sunday.  It happened to be my birthday and the Grammy Awards… I was nominated.  I didn’t win.  Not the point.”

The remark drew a warm chuckle from the audience before DeGeneres turned her focus upon the heavy topic of Bryant’s untimely passing.  Her voice breaking, she urged the audience while wiping away tears, “Life is short, and it’s fragile, and we don’t know how many birthdays we have.”

“So just — you don’t have to have a birthday to celebrate.  Just celebrate life,” pleads DeGeneres. “And if you haven’t told someone you love them, do it now.”

The comedian encourages the audience to hug, kiss, and say “I love you” more to the important people in their lives.  

“Be nice to the people at the DMV,” she then cracked, eliciting another round of laughter.

DeGeneres struggled with her emotions throughout the day’s taping as she and guest DJ tWitch celebrated her birthday while mourning Bryant.  

TWitch’s voice swelled with emotion as he tried to present his birthday gift to a red-eyed DeGeneres, saying, “This is kinda the perfect place to be right now when you need this kind of inspiration and a little boost of love like this.”  

Bryant, 41, died in a Sunday helicopter crash that killed everyone aboard, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

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