Count Nick Saban among the sports fans, athletes and coaches mourning the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.

Saban and Bryant became acquainted when the sports icon visited the Alabama football program. During the visit, Saban expressed admiration for Bryant’s approach to how he played the game. Bryant delivered a motivational speech to the team and also spent some one-on-one time with the head coach. He also commented on the importance of being committed to the process of achieving success rather than being too focused on the outcome.

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Alabama released a statement from Saban on Sunday, via the team’s official Twitter account:

The world lost a truly special person today. Our hearts go out to Kobe’s family, friends and all who loved him as both a basketball player and a person. Kobe was one of the greatest to ever play the game, but what truly separated him was his competitive spirit and unmatched work ethic. When Kobe spoke to our team, he talked about how he went to work knowing perfect was unattainable but put everything into closing the gap on perfect every day. This is an unbelievably sad day. He leaves a tremendous legacy for all who knew and loved him.