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Charles Barkley eulogizes Moses Malone: 'He treated me like a son'

An estimated 1,200 people gathered in Houston on Saturday to remember the life of Basketball Hall of Famer Moses Malone, who died last week at the age of 60.

The funeral service was held at Lakewood Church, in the same building where Malone once played as a member of the Houston Rockets from 1976 to '82, when it was known as The Summit.

Charles Barkley, a former teammate of Malone's on the Philadelphia 76ers, delivered the eulogy. Barkley spoke about how he called Malone "Dad" and considered him a father figure, explaining how the three-time NBA MVP came to mentor Barkley when he was a 76ers rookie vying for playing time.

"When I got to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1984, we had a bunch of tremendous older brothers on the team," Barkley said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "I looked at those guys as older brothers. But there was one guy -- and to this day, I never understood why -- who took me under his wing. And that was Moses. He treated me like a son.

"I said, 'Mo, I'm really struggling. What can I do?' I said, 'Give me some advice.' He says to me, 'Well little fella, you're fat and you're lazy.'"

Barkley went on to share an anecdote about the time he moved into the same apartment building as Malone, who would hound him about his diet.

"A few times I ordered pizza and the next thing I know someone is knocking on my door and Big Mo said, 'You got pizza in here.' I was like, 'How you know I got pizza in here?' He says, 'Charles, you can't lose weight eating pizza.'

"That type of leadership, stand on my case, at the time it was a struggle, but man, I cannot believe how lucky I am to No. 1, have a father figure on my team, but also living in my same building ... to keep me moving forward. I always thanked him for that."

According to the Chronicle, among those in attendance were Malone's former teammates on the Rockets, Rudy Tomjanovich, Calvin Murphy, John Lucas and Major Jones, as well as Julius Erving and Maurice Cheeks, with whom he won the 1983 NBA championship in Philadelphia.

"Basketball was his specialty, but life was his calling. If you meet somebody like that, you gravitate to him. He was never up. He was never down. He was just Moses." Ralph Sampson on Moses Malone

They were joined by former NBA players Dominique Wilkins, Ralph Sampson, Clyde Drexler, George Gervin, Artis Gilmore, Alex English and Tracy McGrady.

"He made you laugh," Sampson said, according to the Chronicle. "He was the most gentle, sweetest person you would want to know. Basketball was his specialty, but life was his calling. If you meet somebody like that, you gravitate to him. He was never up. He was never down. He was just Moses."

Erving compared his former teammate to Frank Sinatra, "a guy who did it his own way and in the process, changed everything."

Malone died of natural causes Sunday in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was scheduled to play in a celebrity golf tournament.