Bryant’s daughter Gianna was also killed in the crash, NBA officials said.
"I think about his wife and the other daughters," Erving, popularly known as "Dr. J," said Sunday on "America's News HQ."
"I think Kobe's legacy will be seen by what his wife and daughters do from here forward, whether they will go into a shell or whether they will fulfill the dreams they talked about for his daughters and wife," Erving added.
Erving, a longtime star of the American Basketball Association [ABA] and NBA, called on the public to "assist" Bryant's family in "keeping their dad's legacy alive."
Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday flying over Calabasas. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said in a Sunday afternoon news conference there were nine people listed on the helicopter's manifest and all were believed to be dead. Police did not confirm any of the identities of the victims.
"It's such a shame with his life being cut short," Erving said. "We won't be able to see... him to go through his 40s and 50s, and the difference he would have made in the United States and throughout the world."
Erving described Bryant as a "special" person, who was "blessed and driven."
"Whether you were looking at him from a distance or up close and personally, you know he was special. He was blessed," Erving said. "And, he was driven. The drive that he had paid off for him. He was successful in all of his endeavors."
Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, had four daughters together: Gianna, Natalia, Bianca and their newborn, Capri, who was born in June 2019.
Bryant "performed in a way that might have fulfilled a lifetime of dreams of so many people," Erving said, "but his family had dreams, and they had plans."
He continued, "Hopefully, those things will be tremendously supported by the public and private... and by the people who spend time with them."