Of course, Kobe Bryant was known for being one of the best basketball players, but the late MVP also dabbled in film and won an Oscar in 2018 prior to his untimely death. Bryant — who passed away in a fatal helicopter crash at just 41 years old on January 26 — retired from the NBA in 2016, and then turned a poem into a film called Dear Basketball, which ended up getting the trophy for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards.
The film is about a letter the Los Angeles Lakers player wrote to The Players’ Tribune in November 2015 announcing he was done with the sport at the end of the season. Throughout the short movie, viewers get insight into Bryant’s career as he narrates the story. “My body knows it’s time to say goodbye, and that is OK. I am ready to let you go,” he said. “I want you to know now, so we can savor every moment we have left together. The good and the bad.”
Following his win, Bryant and animator Glen Keane gushed about their collaboration. “To Kobe, for writing Dear Basketball. It’s a message for all of us,” Glen said. “Whatever form your dream may take, it’s through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible.”
“I don’t know if it’s possible,” Bryant replied. “As basketball players, we are supposed to shut up and dribble. I am glad we do a little bit more than that. Thank you, Academy for this amazing honor,” Bryant said. “To my wife, Vanessa Bryant, our daughters, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, you are my inspiration.”
Afterward, Bryant told Jimmy Kimmel he was “still tripping” about his new statue. “I hadn’t won a championship in a really, really long time, so here we are,” he said. “This is not supposed to happen. I am supposed to play basketball — not something that wins an Oscar.”
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, Payton Chester, 13, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Keri Altobelli, 36, John Altobelli, 57, Christina Mauser, 38, Sarah Chester, 46, and Ara Zobayan, 50, were on their way to Thousand Oaks for basketball practice at Bryant’s Mamba Academy, but they never made it to their final destination.
Since the tragedy, fans and celebrities all over the world have posted tributes to Bryant — who is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and their three daughters: Natalia, Bianka and Capri — and the eight other victims.
On February 5, Vanessa, 37, posted a touching message about her late husband on Instagram. “#MyBestFriend #TheBestDaddy Miss you so much,” she captioned a photo of Bryant. “#Handsome #Sweet #Funny #Silly #LovingHusband. Miss you saying, ‘Bonjourno Principessa/Reina.’”
This year at the Oscars ceremony — which airs on Sunday, February 9 — they will honor Bryant for his accomplishments. “They doubted a kid could make it in the NBA, and he proved them wrong. They doubted he could win a championship, and he proved them wrong,” the Academy wrote on January 26. “They doubted he could make movies, and he won an Oscar. Like all great artists, Kobe Bryant proved the doubters wrong. Rest in peace.”
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