Shemar was one of several Y&R cast members to issue kind words about their late cast member. Others included Melody Thomas Scott, Eric Braeden and former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Eileen Davidson.
The Criminal Minds star spoke exclusively to PEOPLE on what an impact Kristoff had in his life, both personally and professionally.
“I’m raised an only child, but Kristoff is truly the closest thing to a brother and a brother’s love and a brother’s mentorship that I’ve ever known,” Shemar revealed about his relationship with Kristoff.
Shemar joined Y&R three years after Kristoff did and discussed what a strong support system his late friend was in the early days of them being on the popular soap series.
“He didn’t have to embrace me the way he did. When I came in and was trying to find my way and he saw how scared I was, he saw how nervous I was,” Shemar said. “He saw my six pack and all that, but he just saw me and he embraced me like a brother. If he hadn’t embraced me, I would have never got my sure footing in the beginning days.”
Shemar also credited Kristoff with helping him propel his career. The 49-year-old was able to break out of the daytime television mode and become a big star on the small screen and in movies.
“I will give Kristoff, and I always have given Kristoff — and I’m not just saying this to be cute because of what’s happening today — I told him in the beginning because he embraced me the way he embraced me is the only reason that I have the life and career that I have,” Shemar explained.
“He opened doors for me and many. He opened doors for people who don’t even realize he opened doors, but he did,” Shemar continued. “He opened doors and he was so committed to his craft. He always wanted to be better. He wanted to touch people and he did.”
The LAPD confirmed Kristoff’s death on Monday, February 4. Kristoff’s body was discovered at his home in San Fernando Valley, after a friend stopped by to check on him.
RadarOnline.com reported that Kristoff’s autopsy has been competed, but the cause of death is deferred.