Update 1/28/20: Unfortunately “Dear Basketball” was taken offline from the source where it had been shared. We will update this article when a new source becomes available. In the meantime, you can still watch the clip of Kobe Bryant accepting an Academy Award for the film (see below).
As the world continues to process the tragic loss of legendary NBA player Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people from a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, a beautifully animated film Bryant helped produce is enjoying a resurgence.
“Dear Basketball” is a poem Bryant wrote near the end of his amazing NBA career during his final season in 2015. On Nov. 29, 2015, “The Players Tribune” published Bryant’s touching tribute to the sport he daydreamed about as a child and was destined to play as part of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:
I fell in love with you”
These words open both his poem and the 2017 film, which Bryant narrates by reading his love letter to the sport that captured his “mind and body, spirit and soul.”
The film was so well-received, folks at the Tribeca Film Festival interviewed Bryant about his role in having the poem animated:
— Tribeca (@Tribeca) April 17, 2017
A top-notch team worked together to bring Kobe’s words to life. Disney animator and Oscar winner Glen Keane created the incredible hand-drawn animation and also directed the film. The music was composed by none other than Academy Award-winner John Williams (“Star Wars” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”). Bryant was also the producer of the film. The 5-minute, 22-second animated short won both an Academy Award and an Emmy award.
At the 2018 Academy Awards, Bryant stood on the stage with his Oscar in clear disbelief, beaming with pride.
“Basketball players, we’re supposed to shut up and dribble,” he joked at the start of his acceptance speech. “But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.”
After the ceremony, Bryant told reporters that his Oscar win felt on the same level, if not higher, than his world championship victories.
“I feel better than winning the championship, to be honest with you. I swear I do,” he said. “To be here right now and to have like … a sense of validation is … this is crazy, man.”