With the passing Thursday of Nelson Mandela at the age of 95, many notable figures in the world of golf reached out to express their condolences and share stories of interactions with the man. Among those was fellow South African Gary Player, who recalled the first time he met Mandela shortly after the latter's release following a 27-year prison term.
"I knelt down and I kissed his feet and I said, 'I have never kissed anybody's feet in my life,'" Player explained while speaking at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa. "I said, 'I have so much admiration for you.'"
A nine-time major champion, Player is among the most iconic athletes from his country and had multiple opportunities to work closely with Mandela on various charity efforts. At age 78, he remains inspired by the various challenges overcome by the former president.
"It was very tearful for me, because when you think of a man that has gone to jail for all those years for doing the right thing, not the wrong thing, it is hard to comprehend that a man can come out and be like that," said Player. "He was an exceptional man."