“If you grew up in Northeast Ohio and were Black, Jim Brown was a God,” the Lakers’ superstar wrote in a lengthy message on Instagram
LeBron James on Friday paid tribute to Jim Brown following the news that the legendary NFL running back, Hollywood actor and Civil Rights activist had died Thursday night at the age of 87.
In a lengthy message posted to Instagram along with photos and a video of the two icons through the years, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar, 38, wrote in part, “We lost a hero today. Rest in Paradise to the legend Jim Brown. I hope every Black athlete takes the time to educate themselves about this incredible man and what he did to change all of our lives. We all stand on your shoulders, Jim Brown.”
Brown’s wife of 26 years, Monique Brown, shared the news of his death on Instagram Friday afternoon.
“It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my husband, Jim Brown,” she wrote. “He passed peacefully last night in our LA home. To the world, he was an activist, actor and football star. To our family, he was a loving and wonderful husband, father and grandfather. Our hearts are broken…”
Related:NFL Legend John Madden Dead at 85
Along with his Friday message, James shared a video of himself during one of his stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, bowing to Brown, who was in attendance courtside. The Cleveland Browns Hall of Famer bowed back.
“If you grew up in Northeast Ohio and were Black, Jim Brown was a God,” James wrote in his tribute. “As a kid who loved football, I really just thought of him as the greatest Cleveland Brown to ever play. Then I started my own journey as a professional athlete and realized what he did socially was his true greatness. When I choose to speak out, I always think about Jim Brown. I can only speak because Jim broke down those walls for me.”
James concluded, “I am so grateful that I was able to call you my friend. I hope I can continue to honor your legacy with my words and actions. My prayers to your family. I know they are all incredibly proud of everything you did for our community! #LegendsNeverDie🙏🏾”
Another NBA and L.A. icon also responded to the news on Saturday morning. Magic Johnson noted that Brown was one of the first people he met after being drafted by the Lakers and moving to Los Angeles in 1979.
“I was so sad to hear that the legendary Jim Brown passed away [Thursday]. He was a Hall of Fame football player, civil rights advocate, social activist, actor, and mentor to so many. He broke down barriers in sports and in this country,” Johnson said via Twitter. “My father always said he was the GOAT of the NFL! Jim Brown remains the only player elected to the professional football, college football and lacrosse halls of fame, yet he gave up the game he loved to lend his voice and platform to enhance the lives of Black Americans.”
Related:Stan Lee’s Dog Goes Missing — and Is Rescued by Former NFL Player Jim Brown: Report
Johnson concluded, “Jim Brown was on the front line of the civil rights movement and his work to help our people will forever be his legacy. He is one of the first people I ever met in Los Angeles and I’ll never forget that moment. RIP my friend.”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Brown was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, and his No. 32 jersey was later retired by the Browns.
According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown never missed a game throughout his career and was also selected for the Pro Bowl in each of his nine seasons.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.