There is no actor more closely associated with top TV producer Steven Bochco, who died Sunday, than Kim Delaney. She was a fresh-faced twentysomething when he gave her her first major primetime TV role, an arc on Season 2 of his NBC legal drama L.A. Law in 1987 as attorney Leslie Kleinberg. The same year, Bochco booked Delaney for a guest stint on another series he had on ABC, police comedy-drama Hooperman.

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Eight years later, Bochco brought Delaney onto ABC cop drama NYPD Blue, which he had created with David Milch, as Detective Diane Russell, a role that earned her three Emmy nominations and a win in 1997. Bochco went on to co-create a starring vehicle for Philadelphia native Delaney, the 2001 ABC drama Philly, which lasted one season but was well received by critics. Their collaboration continued through Bochco’s final series, TNT’s Murder In the First, on which Delaney did an arc two years ago.

Like many who had been close to Bochco, Delanay was hit hard by the news of his passing after a long battle with leukemia. Here is what she wrote for Deadline about the three decades she had spent with him as her producer, friend and confidant and the best advice he gave her.

Steven was so much to me. We were friends; it went way beyond the work.

He believed in me from the start…

1987 LA Law, Hooperman, then NYPD Blue, created Philly for me, Murder in the First.

What made Steven special to me was not just him being a brilliant, Hollywood Legend; It’s him as a trusted friend, family man, confidante – always there for the good, the bad, and the ugly. All of it.

I was at a major crossroads in my life. Steven sat with me and very gently said, “People say life is short…life is long. You can change at any time and make it what you want. Go live it.”

Steven changed my life. He made me think, laugh, cry, do better, be better. My heart aches.