For Jamal Crawford, Kobe Bryant was more than just a fellow athlete. While the Los Angeles Lakers icon was only a couple of years older than the veteran NBA guard, Crawford has always looked up to him and even more during the latter years of his career.

Speaking with Landon Buford of Sports Illustrated, Crawford shared his admiration for Kobe and his mentality as a competitor. He also opened up about how their relationship grew over the years. The Lakers icon had been so supportive of him and his CrawsOver league, and the former Los Angeles Clippers playmaker really appreciated that.

“Everybody sees the fierce competitor and how he competes, but the man he was, was second to none. I was so happy when he came here, he didn’t have to or have any reason to. Someone he was with was like ‘no, Kobe can’t go’. Kobe was like ‘Jamal is playing, I am taking my family and watching him play at the Crawsover.’ For a lot of people, that’s the only time they’ve seen Kobe. It was an amazing experience and our relationship took off after that, texting and talking. He is someone I consider a hero, even though he’s just a year or two older than me, he was a hero to me,” Crawford shared.

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While Kobe Bryant was gone too soon, his peers and fans certainly do their best to keep his legacy alive and burning. Jamal Crawford clearly hasn’t forgotten how impactful Bryant had been on him in the personal and professional level, and he is doing his best to do the same for others.

Kobe has influenced a lot of NBA players today throughout his legendary career with the Lakers, and there is no doubt the Black Mamba will continue to inspire for years.