LA Phil cellist Ben Hong gives voice to a city’s grief, following death of Kobe Bryant

Posted on: February 11, 2020

Above: Ben Hong, associate principal cello at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, performed in a pregame memorial for Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center in LA on January 31. Bryant’s Laker jersey numbers were 8 and 24.

Ben Hong, associate principal cello of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, “starred at the most impactful Lakers game in history even though it was the first Lakers game he had ever attended,” writes Bill Plaschke in Saturday’s (2/8) Los Angeles Times. For a January 31 Lakers pregame memorial for Kobe Bryant, who died in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash, Hong “was asked to provide the soundtrack to a city’s grief while mourning” his own loss, “the December death of his ex-wife, the mother of his son. ‘I felt this connection with everyone who was suffering,’ Hong said, ‘because I was suffering.’ … By soulfully playing the iconic ballad ‘Hallelujah’ underneath the giant scoreboard showing video highlights of Bryant’s career, Hong hit just the right notes in processing the pain for the 19,000 fans in the arena…. ‘You could feel the grief, the sadness,’ says Hong. ‘I was honored to give an emotional voice to a city’s pain.’ … Basketball fans from around the globe have tracked down Hong … and thanked him.” Tim Harris, the Lakers’ president of business operations and chief operating officer, said, “As far as Laker fans are concerned, he’s not just a cello player, he’s the cello player.”