Hillary Rodham Clinton paid tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela on Friday morning, calling the late South African leader "a giant among us."

Clinton, who said she first met Mandela in 1992 and visited him several times over the years, including as secretary of state, noted Mandela's commitment not just to bringing democracy and freedom to his beloved South Africa but first to bringing freedom to himself.

"I was always struck by the extraordinary depth of his self-knowledge, of his awareness about how hard it is to live a life of integrity, of service, but to combine within one's self the contradictions that he lived with — a lawyer and a freedom fighter, a prisoner and a leader, a man of anger and of forgiveness," Clinton said.