Jimmy Kimmel smiled, laughed and broke down crying Thursday night while remembering his close friend and beloved comedian Don Rickles.

Jimmy opened "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" by reflecting on his time with Rickles over the years and telling some heartwarming and hilarious stories. Rickles became a very close friend of Kimmel's ... even helping Jimmy through the death of his uncle.

Don's final TV project is a reality show yet to air in which he chats with celebrities -- including Kimmel -- at some of his favorite restaurants around Los Angeles.