Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant added to an already impressive collection of hardware at the 90th annual Academy Awards by taking home an Oscar for best animated short film for his “Dear Basketball” work.
Originally debuted during the halftime ceremony to retire his Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys at Staples Center, the short was directed by Glean Keane, while John Williams composed the score. Bryant served as the screenwriter and executive producer.
The animated film was based off the poem Bryant penned to formally announce his retirement from the NBA after 20 seasons. He becomes the first former professional athlete to win an Oscar Award.
Shortly after being named the winner, Bryant shared his excitement by comparing it to when he won NBA championships, via Beth Harris of the Associated Press:
“I feel better than winning championships,” he said, a smile never leaving his face. “This is crazy, man, it’s crazy.”
Even before “Dear Basketball” was named among the five finalists by the Academy, Bryant said winning the prestigious award would be superior to his accomplishments while with the Lakers. More recently, he said simply being nominated was ‘vindication’ of being more than a former athlete.
Bryant echoed that message during his acceptance speech. “As basketball players we’re really supposed to just shut up and dribble,” Bryant said on stage. “But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.”
Since creating “Dear Basketball,” Bryant has produced multiple videos for his MuseCage Basketball Network. Through his studio, Granity Studios, he also partnered with ESPN on a 15-episode series that’s set to premiere this month.