WOODFORD COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Erik Daniels shared the story on the court Monday night as he prepared to coach his daughter's basketball team.
He talked with another coach about the time he guarded Kobe Bryant during a pre-season NBA game. Daniels was a rookie on the Sacramento Kings.
"I mean I was reaching and grabbing the whole time," Daniels said. "I probably got three fouls in two minutes."
It was a game he said changed his life.
"I gave it a good fight but every time he got the ball he went at me 100 percent," Daniels said, "like it was Game 7 in the finals. So he kind of taught me in that moment to push to be a great basketball player."
The former University of Kentucky player is now the coach of the Woodford County High School girl's basketball team, where his daughter is a junior.
Daniels said he was inspired by Kobe Bryant as a dad as well.
"I kind of respected him more for what he was trying to do for his daughters," he said.
The news of Bryant and his daughter Gianna's death, along with seven other people onboard a helicopter, has left Daniels heartbroken, he said.
"He's one of the hardest workers in sports and one of the hardest workers in anything," he said. "That motivates me as a coach and as a person everyday just to keep going and keep pushing in his name."