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They say expressing yourself openly can be one of the best ways to deal with grief.

But what happens when that expression has to be done in front of the entire world?

That's the decision faced by big stars — actors, athletes, and musicians — when tragedy hits their family. Many performers try to get away from the public eye in moments like this. To spend time grieving with their loved ones. And that's absolutely fine.


Others seem to find strength in their craft. Or even just in sharing their pain with the world.

Those moments have led us to some of the most unforgettable performances we've ever seen. Here are nine of the best:

1. Edinson Volquez helped the Kansas City Royals win the 2015 World Series just days after his father passed away.

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images.

His dad died of heart complications while he was pitching in Game 1 of the series, though Volquez didn't find out until after the game. After attending the funeral in the Dominican Republic, though, he was back in time to pitch six solid innings in the deciding Game 5. The performance wasn't perfect, but it was enough to propel his team to a championship –– his team's first since 1985.

"He was there with me tonight," Volquez said after the game.

2. Just a week after his mother's death, Kanye West broke down during a performance of "Hey Mama."

Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Roc Nation.

Kanye released "Hey Mama" in 2005 as a tribute to his mother. In the song, he writes, "I appreciate what you allowed for me / I just want you to be proud of me."

Only two years later, she died of unexpected complications following surgery. Kanye appeared at a show in Paris just a week after her death and broke down during the opening bars of the song before gathering himself and closing out the show.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander shined less than 48 hours after losing his brother.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

On the same day Volquez became a champion with the Royals, Alexander helped the Buccaneers knock off the Atlanta Falcons in an overtime thriller with some exceptional play — despite the fact his 17-year-old brother had been tragically shot to death just two days earlier.

"He was my little brother," Alexander said. "But I know he'd want me to be strong for him."

4. Weird Al Yankovic performed hours after learning both of his parents passed away.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Image

In 2004, Weird Al Yankovic's parents tragically died in their home when their fireplace filled the house with smoke. Yankovic was scheduled to go on stage in Mankato, Minnesota, shortly after he got the news.

And, amazingly, he did.

5. Brett Favre famously led his Packers to a victory over the Oakland Raiders the day after his father's death.

Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Favre, in what would become one of the defining moments of his career, torched the Raiders defense to the tune of 399 yards and four touchdowns –– a nearly flawless effort –– even while playing with a heavy heart.

The moment seemed all the more powerful under the bright lights of "Monday Night Football."

6. Lea Michele began shooting an episode of "Glee" to memorialize Cory Montieth just weeks after his passing.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for VH1

Michele and Montieth were dating when he died of a drug overdose in 2013. Soon after, "Glee" (the TV show they both starred in) began filming an episode to memorialize Montieth and his character on the show.

If you haven't seen the episode, it's a doozy. You can tell the actors, especially Michele, are just barely getting through it. The result is a spectacular and touching tribute.

7. Figure skater Joannie Rochette won a bronze Olympic medal just days after her mother suffered a fatal heart attack.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

While competing at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Rochette got the awful news during practice that her mother had passed away after traveling to Vancouver to see her perform. Somehow, she summoned the strength to compete and scored a personal best on her way to a hard-earned bronze medal.

8. Torrey Smith's younger brother died in a motorcycle accident. The next night, he wowed on "Sunday Night Football."

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

He racked up 127 yards and two touchdowns on the night, not to mention a Ravens win, despite fighting tears on the sideline throughout the game.

It was an incredible moment.

9. Celine Dion was performing in Vegas on the day her father died. That night, she delivered an unbelievable performance.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for The UCLA Department of Head and Neck Surge.

After giving a short tribute to her late father, Dion sang "Wonderful World" through tears and absolutely stunned the audience.

You can still watch the moving performance today.

Everyone deals with loss differently.

You can read about the five stages of grief all you want, but there's no right or wrong way to navigate your emotions.

It's just really wonderful when tragedy can result in something beautiful.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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