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How Kobe Bryant helped 49ers’ Richard Sherman’s recovery from torn Achilles

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 30: Richard Sherman #25 of the San Francisco 49ers watches a replay on the big screen during their preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi’s Stadium on August 30, 2018 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Last November, in Game 10 of the Seattle Seahawks’ season, four-time All-Pro cornerback and NFL champion Richard Sherman went down with a torn Achilles tendon.

It is the most challenging injury for an athlete to overcome, and one of the first calls he got in the hospital came from someone who understood exactly how hard that road to recovery — Kobe Bryant. From Nick Wagoner of ESPN:

“When I first called to check on him I said, ‘Are you all right, I want to make sure you are not being a baby about it?’” Kobe Bryant recalls of a November 2017 phone call...

“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.”

When Bryant reached out to Sherman on that November day, he was prepared with plenty of advice on how to get through the grueling process. Bryant gave Sherman the name of a couple of doctors to reach out to about doing his surgery. He provided procedural advice on some of the day-to-day components of the recovery and laid out the different phases of rehab. Most of all, he wanted to make make sure Sherman had his mind right for what was to come.

“The most important part is not looking at the finish line,” Bryant said. “It’s so far away, it’s like starting at the base of Everest and you’re looking up at the summit. That’s big. That’s what the Achilles injury is like, man, it’s tough. You can’t think about the finish line. You have to just think about the day that’s right here in front of you now. You put one foot in front of the other and then next thing you know, time has gone by and you’re at the top of the mountain. But you have got to just take it one step at a time.”

Kobe and Sherman knew each other through Nike (Sherman had appeared in Kobe’s “Mamba Mentality” ads) but Sherman had grown up in Compton and was a huge Kobe fan.

Sherman will be on the field for the 49ers next Sunday in Minnesota, having recovered from his injury enough to get back on the field. Sherman did the work, took the steps. But it’s always helpful to have Kobe Bryant give you a little push.