Richard Taylor spoke movingly of Samuel Kasumu who he described as “like a son to me” - and felt compelled to support his campaign to challenge Sadiq Khan.
Mr Taylor added Mr Kasumu, who he first met in his late teens, was “the man to unite London” after the fatal police shooting of rapper Chris Kaba, 24, and an epidemic of violent crime.
Award-winning social entrepreneur Mr Kasumu, 35, a married father-of-two from Barnet, will begin his 2024 election bid at the Tory Party conference in Birmingham with a theme of inspiring hope for Londoners. The Tories have yet to decide who their candidate will be.
Mr Taylor, whose 10-year-old son Damilola was fatally stabbed by thugs in Peckham in November 2000, worked closely with former prime minister Johnson during his time as the capital’s mayor.
Mr Kasumu won a Barclays business enterprise gong at the 2011 Spirit of London Awards, set up in Damilola’s honour.
In a statement released to the Standard, Mr Taylor said: “I was so pleased when I heard that Samuel Kasumu was considering fulfilling his destiny by running to be Mayor of London.
“He is like a son to me. Someone with a calm assuredness and unflinching focus on the things that matter.
“London is crying out for a leader that will be able to bring people together and to tackle the big challenges that we are facing on our streets today. The recent killing of Chris Kaba is a reminder of the tensions we are dealing with in the capital. I have been deeply disturbed by the plight of violence that has been ravaging through London.
“Lives are being lost. Fear is rife. We need radical solutions and I believe Samuel has the capacity to provide them.”
He continued: “Samuel is the man to unite London. I have known him since he was a young man that just wanted to serve his community. I remember the first time I met him. He came into our training centre in inner city London, and he spoke very clearly about his dream to inspire hope amongst the next generation.
“He is the role model with a backstory that Londoners need to hear. He has been on an incredible journey, accumulating experience in local and national government. He is someone that seeks to reach out to others and to build bridges. This is why I felt compelled to make clear my support for Samuel’s candidacy. I wish him all the best.”
Paddington-born Mr Kasumu joined the Tories as a 19-year-old, saying that the party needed to broaden its appeal to retain electoral success.
In April last year, he quit as a special adviser to Johnson after a Government-backed review said Britain is no longer a country where the “system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.
In his resignation letter, he accused the Conservatives of pursuing “a politics steeped in division”.
Mr Kasumu is founder of a headhunting firm and set up a number of initiatives to support the progression of black and minority ethnic people, including a student network.
He has won numerous awards for his work, including the CBI’s Young Star of Enterprise Award and the Great British Entrepreneur’s Champion of the Year.