Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal told the story of the first time he ever met Kobe Bryant during a visit with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday.
It was long before Bryant was the legend he would later become — back when he was just a guy asking for an autograph from one of his heroes.
“Actually, Kobe reminded me of this story,” O’Neal told Fallon. “I was in Orlando, and him and his family came in the locker room and he asked Penny [Hardaway] for an autograph, and I guess Penny kind of blew him off… this is what Kobe was telling me. And then he said he came up to me, and I was real nice to him.”
O’Neal said he had forgotten about the brief encounter until later when they met again when Bryant was a rookie player.
“I never knew that until he told me one day, this rookie, ‘You remember me?'” O’Neal said. “He was like, ‘I came in the locker room.’ And I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that was you.’ I realize what I loved about him early on was he wanted the spot. He wanted to be the best.”
O’Neal also urged viewers to tell their loved ones how they feel while they have the chance.
“Shortly before Kobe passed away, my sister passed away,” he said. “It’s been really tough for me, so I want to urge everybody out there, if you want to say something to anybody, don’t wait. I don’t care if you had arguments. If you love ‘em, if you miss ‘em… pick up your phone and tell ‘em you miss ‘em right then. ‘Cause I would love now to even call him and tell him, “Kobe, I’m going to post a picture of us winning the championship 20 years ago. Can you believe we’re that old?’ I can’t do that anymore.”