"Today his obituary read that he was six foot six, but he was so much taller than that," Clooney tells PEOPLE in a statement

Credit: Getty (2)

George Clooney is mourning the loss of actor, mentor, friend and SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard who died Wednesday. He was 71.

Clooney honored Howard with a touching tribute, remembering one of his fondest memories with the late star, which also happened to be one of his earliest career moments.

“There’s a story about how a young actor met Ken on the Fox lot in 1983 and told him what a fan he was of The White Shadow,” Clooney, 54, tells PEOPLE in a statement. “Ken asked that actor what he did and the young man said, ‘well someday I hope to be lucky enough to work with you.’ Then he told Ken he had an audition all the way across town at Paramount but he wasn’t going to make it because all he had was a bike.

“So Ken put his bike in the trunk of his car and dropped him off at Paramount. Then Ken just waved goodbye and said good luck, ‘I hope we do get that chance to work together,'” he states, adding, “I didn’t get that audition, but I did get the chance to work with him years later. It was an honor.

“Today his obituary read that he was six foot six, but he was so much taller than that,” Clooney concluded his eulogy.

Howard, best known for his groundbreaking CBS drama The White Shadow, died on Wednesday, according to the actors’ union SAG-AFTRA. No cause of death has been announced.

Howard’s widow Linda wrote on Instagram: “My heart is broken, but the onslaught of love and admiration for Ken are of great comfort. He was my “Big Dog” and I have experienced what real love truly is. Thank you all for your calls, emails, texts and postings. It means the world. Need to take a bit of time, but wanted everyone to know I’m okay and oh so grateful to you all.”

Along with Clooney, many celebrities expressed their condolences including Aaron Paul, Jon Cryer, B.J. Novak, Rob Lowe, Jerry O’Connell and Howard’s ex-wife Margo Howard.