Aug 13, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT
Lance Armstrong was one of Robin Williams‘ closest friends in the sports world. The cyclist stripped of seven Tour de France titles spoke about his relationship with the late comedian Tuesday night.
“I had heard over the years that he was a fan of cycling,” Armstrong said on CNN. “So when we first starting racing the Tour [de France] and winning the Tour, he would send messages or send notes.”
Then Williams began traveling to France for the stage race, in 2002 and 2004. He rode with the man who beat testicular cancer during a rest day at the 2002 Tour, both donning U.S. Postal Service team jerseys.
Williams kept a sense of humor about Armstrong after the cyclist admitted last year to using performance-enhancing drugs during his career. Williams jokingly called Armstrong “the uniballer” on “The Daily Show” last September.
“[Williams] was always cracking jokes,” Armstrong said. “He was a special man. He was over at our house for dinner with the kids. The last great dinner I remember was a few years ago when all my kids were there. He had so many fart jokes, and he was doing all these noises. My kids were just rolling. He was so loved not just by myself, but everybody. Now we’re going to miss him.”
Armstrong said he visited Williams when the comedian was struggling to stay sober.
“I sort of lived with him through some of the previous challenges when he was sober and sort of fell off and spent some time back in therapy for that,” Armstrong said. “Life’s messy, and we all sort of found our way. This last year or so, Robin was in a place that I don’t think many people knew.”
Armstrong said some of his favorite memories were touring with Williams with United Service Organizations, entertaining troops in the Middle East and Europe over the holidays.
“To see him in front of those troops, he was their hero,” Armstrong said. “Perhaps it was a weakness of his — he could never say no. If somebody asked for something, if they needed something, he had to be somewhere, he would stretch himself so thin.
“The guy was a giver.”
Armstrong also gushed about Williams’ contributions to Livestrong.
“Any time I ever asked him to do anything for my organization, come to an event, donate something, donate a dinner, donate a bike, come do some comedy, he always, and I mean always, said yes,” Armstrong said.
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