Eric Stern appreciated all the words said and written about his father, former NBA commissioner David Stern, who died on New Year’s Day.

“It’s all very nice,” Stern told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview.

But what also had tremendous meaning to Eric Stern and his family were the hundreds of people “who email us and tell us how he helped them with their career, helped them with a problem, helped them find doctors. Those are the ones we really like. The stuff he did professionally, obviously we’re aware of that,” Stern said.

“But he was really someone who always tried to help anybody who came to him and needed help. … He took legal training very seriously. He felt strongly about doing things right and when someone needed you, he said, ‘Let’s get it done.’

"Sometimes, he saw a lot of people who had a lot and didn’t help people and he didn’t like that at all.”

Eric Stern, 51, opened up in a rare interview about his dad, who married Dianne Bock in 1963 and had another son, Andrew.

There was the public side of Stern, which we saw during his 30-year run as commissioner, and the private side of Stern, which we rarely saw.

Now, Eric wanted to share a few stories. The family didn’t want to violate the privacy of people who reached out, but Eric said the family appreciated the note from longtime NBA executive Rick Welts, who David supported when Welts revealed he was gay. Welts told the Sterns he didn’t have the words to describe what David meant to him.

And the family took delight in the Jazz at Lincoln Center ad which honored Stern, who was on the board of directors. Jazz at Lincoln Center managing and artistic director Wynton Marsalis recently had a back-and-forth with Stern and “ever since, I’ve been preparing my counter statement, preparing for the next conversation. But … in typical David fashion, he went out with the last word," Marsalis wrote.

In grief, the family is finding comfort in a life well lived.