Aiello, who received an Academy Award nomination for his work in Lee's 1989 classic, "Do the Right Thing", passed away on 12 December after battling an undisclosed illness, and a week later, his friends and family members packed into the Riverside Memorial Chapel to honour his memory.
Lee was among those to deliver eulogies at the funeral, and he recalled having a tough time convincing Aiello to sign on to the movie.
"Danny was kind of reluctant," he remembered, according to the New York Post. "You know, we had different backgrounds... he was Catholic, he was raised in Manhattan. I'm Brooklyn. He was reluctant, so I took him to a Knick (basketball) game.
"Then I took him to Yankees stadium... He said, 'I'll do your film.'"
It marked the start of a friendship which lasted three decades, and Lee was able to have one last meaningful conversation with Aiello just days before his death after learning he was seriously ill.
"(We had a) private conversation and I told him I loved him," Lee shared. "He said, 'Alright, alright, alright.' I said, 'No, Danny.' I'm just blessed to have known Danny and the great Aiello family."
Aiello's Do the Right Thing co-star, Turturro, also had fond memories of their friendship, and remembered his pal as someone who was "just bursting with life".
The actor was 86 at the time of his death.