NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: Former NBA player Charles Barkley speaks during a press conference prior to Game Four of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: Former NBA player Charles Barkley speaks during a press conference prior to Game Four of the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final

Unlikely relationship melts social media

An NBA icon and a cat litter scientist sounds like the opening line to a really bad joke - instead it's the unbelievable story of one of the most unlikely friendships you're likely to come across.

Charles Barkley is one of the biggest names and personalities to have ever graced the NBA hardwood.

Known as "The Round Mound of Rebound", Barkley became one of the league's most dominant power forwards despite standing at six foot, six inches tall.

Throughout his time in the league he was regarded as one of the most outspoken and damaging players to have played the game.

Barkley often found himself at the centre of controversy thanks to never being afraid to say what was on his mind.

His NBA career began in 1984 and came to an end with his final season in Houston in 2000. After hanging up the sneakers, Barkley picked up a microphone.

The move into the media didn't stop Barkley from speaking his mind and saw him become must watch TV on NBA TNT.

But a whole new side to one of the most ferocious basketball players of all time has been brought to light in recent days.

An incredibly heartwarming story from Shirley Wang spilled the beans on Barkley's unlikely friendship with her father, Lin.

The pair reportedly met four years ago in the bar of a hotel in Sacramento and began talking for hours.

They spent the next three nights sharing stories over dinner and from there the friendship blossomed.

An NBA icon and a cat litter scientist - as odd a combination as you're ever likely to find.

The remarkable story details how the pair met, staying in touch over the years and how Lin unexpectedly showed up to the funeral of Barkley's mother. And then sadly Barkley showing up to the funeral of Lin, much to the surprise of Shirley and everyone else in attendance.

The story has spread like wildfire on social media since it was initially tweeted out only two days ago and has captured the hearts of everyone who has read it.

"What a beautifully written story about two guys who became unlikely friends. Knowing the Chuckster, it doesn't surprise me at all," longtime NBA analyst David Aldridge tweeted.

"This is the best story ever," deputy managing editor for Pro Publica Eric Umansky wrote.

Many who have read the story have struggled to keep their emotions in check with tears streaming down their faces over the unbelievable tale.

"If anyone wants to know why I'm crying this morning, here's @shirleyshirlw telling the story of her dad's friendship with Charles Barkley," ESPN host Pablo Torre tweeted.

"I'll never forget this piece or that it led to this exchange with my wife. "Ugh, what's making you cry now?" "A story about Charles Barkley," TV show host Seth Meyers wrote.

The story shows off a remarkable side to the great Charles Barkley and will no doubt bring a tear and melt the heart of anyone who spends the time reading it in its entirety.