Although he made his mark in the wonderful world of sports, Kobe Bryant’s talents didn’t stop there. The former Los Angeles Lakers player also possessed an incredible creative vision, something that got him recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences resulting in his 2018 Oscar win. Kobe took home the ‘little gold man’ for his short film Dear Basketball, which is based on a poem that he wrote in 2016 when he retired from the game of basketball.
April 1, 2016, was the last time that the Five-Time NBA Champion sported the iconic purple and yellow team jersey as he played against the Utah Jazz, scoring a total of 60 points that game. His love for the sport of basketball was so great, that he refused to leave that passion on the court and wanted to see it realized in other forms. Inspired by a poem he penned months prior to his final game, Kobe teamed up with Glen Keane and the legendary John Williams (John created the iconic score for the Star Wars franchise) to help him bring his vision to life.
In the short film, which almost reaches the five minute range, the Black Mamba reminisces on his time playing the sport and how much the sport has given him. “Mind, body, spirit and soul,” Kobe explains in the movie.
The animated short film was directed by his colleague and friend Glen Keane, who has worked on some of Disney’s top animated films like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and The Beast (to name a few).
Kobe Bryant and his surprising Oscar win
Although he made a film that touched the hearts and minds of many, Kobe made it without the goal of receiving an Oscar nomination — let alone winning one. But in 2018, when his name was announced at the awards ceremony, the father-of-four was all smiles as he walked on stage.
“I grew up dreaming about winning championships, but never, in my wildest dreams, did I think that I would become part of the movie industry... and much less win an Oscar,” the filmmaker expressed. “Since I was a kid, I grew up dreaming about basketball and I worked very hard to make my goals a reality. One title, two, three, four, five... but sometimes, life and God present you with unexpected paths. This is that path. I cannot stop smiling,” the L.A. Lakers shooting guard/small forward shared in an interview with EFE.
Kobe’s path into the world of film and TV isn’t limited to his short film. When he was just starting off in the NBA, the decorated athlete was invited for guest appearances on shows like Moesha. In later years, Kobe made appearances on Modern Family, Sister, Sister and Conan. In 2011, he was the lead in the short film The Black Mamba, which was directed by Robert Rodriguez and talks about his life in and outside of the game.