LL Cool J was hit hard by the recent death of mentor James Brown - as the late soul star was a key influence in the rapper's career. Brown passed away on Christmas Day (25DEC06) and LL Cool J, real name JAMES TODD SMITH, was proud that he had the chance to present the music legend with a special award at the Kennedy Center Honors several years ago. He explains, "He was a huge influence on my music. I sampled a lot of his music over the years. "He was definitely someone that I respected tremendously. He was the godfather and we should all respect him as an icon. "At the end of the day if I could have 10 per cent of the influence on music that James Brown had, I'd be doing good. He's the man."