"It's obviously a tragic loss that everybody is feeling. Kobe, his daughter, the other family members, his family members, the other people that were on board in the helicopter, it's just tragic," Wahlberg expressed. "It's just a reminder that life is short… All the people that you love, call them and remind them as often as possible and cherish every moment."
While the Boston-born actor was a die-hard Celtics fan, he said that "Kobe was always really sweet and could realize the difference between what his job was, who I was a fan of, and the mutual respect that we had for one another."
"He would always go out of his way to be especially kind to my children," he recalled, before sharing a sweet story of the two. "One of the great experiences of all time, I remember Matt Damon, actually, talked about when the Celtics were playing the Lakers in the finals. But [former Los Angeles Lakers coach] Phil Jackson had got up and yelled at us, more at him than me. But Kobe had said some really interesting things to me. It was the series that they'd lost against the Celtics but he was not going to let them win in LA. It was not gonna happen at Staples [Center] and he didn't let it happen."
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Jennifer Lopez and Shakira on Honoring Kobe Bryant During Super Bowl Halftime Show
"Celtics ended up winning that year, but, you know, it's obviously a tragedy," Wahlberg reflected. "Being a father of four myself, I can't imagine what his wife and family are going through. It's just absolutely terrible."
Prior to sharing his memories of Bryant, Wahlberg opened up about his new documentary, McMillion$. The six-episode HBO series "gives a detailed account of the McDonald's Monopoly game scam during the 90s as told by the participants in the case, including the prizewinners and the FBI agents who caught the security officer who orchestrated the entire scheme," per its synopsis.
"It was one of those things where I think audiences, when you hear the story you can't believe that it's actually true and this had happened," the actor told ET. "I was just talking to some of our former FBI officers and [they] actually informed us that we had information -- and these guys were able to find out information -- that the FBI never even knew."
"From a personal point of view, I was just texting with Kobe about my New Year's party in L.A," he shared. "He came to Jennifer's last show. We had such a quiet friendship and Kobe was like that with so many. He whispered in your ear. He never wanted credit. He was the toughest human being I've ever met, but one of the kindest, and one of the smartest, and he came on my podcast last year and I just love him to death. He was like a younger brother and he inspired me and I learned so much from him. My prayers go out for him and Vanessa and obviously all of Lakers nation."
Hear more of what Rodriguez shared in the video below.