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Richard Sherman never considered himself to be a huge basketball fan growing up, but from the moment he started watching games with his grandmother, Sherman's favorite player was Kobe Bryant. What the four-time Pro Bowler admired most about Bryant at the time was his "unrelenting competitive drive, work ethic, and determination." When the two met for the first time, they expressed a mutual respect for one another, and exchanged phone numbers.
They kept in touch throughout the years, but their relationship may have never been more valuable than when Sherman suffered a right Achilles tendon rupture in November 2017. Sherman admits in a recent ESPN profile that as he approached rehabilitation, Kobe became an "essential" part of the process. "He and I had a previous relationship and talked and texted all the time," Sherman said. "So he gave me some pointers and things I needed to do early on in the process to make sure that I expedited the healing process and I was more proactive than reactive. I think that was one of the big things."
In 2013, Bryant suffered the same injury, and understood what was ahead for Sherman. When Kobe reached out to him after he went down, he came prepared with anything and everything Sherman could ever ask for. From the name of doctors to speak with about performing the surgery to breaking down the phases that he would encounter in rehab.
This Sunday, Sherman will take part in his first regular season game in 10 months while probably wearing a pair of Kobe football cleats. It should serve as an homage to the person who helped him reach this latest milestone in his NFL career.
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