RENTON, Wash. -- A couple years ago, after the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl, cornerback Richard Sherman met Kobe Bryant at a photo shoot.
"He said he was a fan of mine, which put my heart in my stomach," Sherman said. "I was just super nervous and super happy to see him. But that was a big deal for me."
Sherman grew up in Compton, California, watching the Los Angeles Lakers and was 8 years old when Bryant broke into the NBA.
Sherman wasn’t a huge basketball fan, but his grandma was. So Sherman would sit in front of the TV, and soon Bryant became his favorite player.
When the two met, Sherman told Bryant the influence he’d had on him.
r"I told him how much I appreciated everything he brought to the game and his work ethic and his mentality because I think it rubbed off on me in some ways," Sherman said. "At the end of the day, you never know who you’re touching with your game or with your approach or with your passion. So you should always play as hard as you can and show who you truly are every play because you never know who’s watching. And I try to take that approach to my game."
Sherman added that Bryant’s competitiveness was always what stood out.
"Just always admired his work ethic and the way he approached the game," Sherman said. "The determination, the competitiveness. He seemed like one of those guys that if he had a 7-year-old daughter, he’d beat her in basketball just to say he won. He’s not going to let anybody just win, and I always admired that about him.
"Kobe, we appreciate you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for basketball."
Sheil Kapadia | espn.go.com | December 3, 2015