What Is Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-Winning Short Film About?

When retired basketball player Kobe Bryant passed away in Jan. 2020, the reach of his impact was felt beyond the community of sports fans. In fact, Bryant was making a name for himself in Hollywood, having won an Academy Award in 2018. Here’s what you need to know about his short film and how you can watch it.

Kobe Bryant was an NBA legend

Kobe Bryant in 2007
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers | Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Bryant’s name is synonymous with basketball and fame. He was drafted immediately out of high school, and, after just a few years on the team, became the Los Angeles Lakers’ highest scoring player. Bryant played for an impressive 20 seasons before retiring in 2016.

His many achievements are clear, but like so many, there is also controversy in Bryant’s past. The father of three daughters has been married to Vanessa Bryant since 2001 but, in 2003, he was arrested in a sexual assault investigation. The case was later dropped.

In retirement, he made a short film

Since then, Bryant has worked to rebuild his reputation, and by the time he retired, he was still thought of primarily for his accomplishments on the court. However, he took this time to get into a different field — show business.

The athlete set about making an animated short film, titled Dear Basketball. Bryant narrated wrote and narrated the film, while it was directed and animated by Glen Keane, a former character animator for Disney who worked on such classics as The Little Mermaid.

Here’s what ‘Dear Basketball’ is about

When he retired, Bryant wrote and read allowed a letter, which served as the inspiration for the film. In it, the athlete talks about his pure love for the game, which inspired him from a very young age. (His father, Joe Bryant, also played professionally, and has continued to coach in the years since).

Dear Basketball is animated in a loose sketch style, and depicts alternately as a child and an adult on the court. It was housed on Verizon’s go90 platform originally, and then on the official website dearbasketball.com. However, it was removed following Bryant’s death.

Bryant won the Oscar for Best Short Film

Bryant’s five-minute short film was nominated for, and subsequently won, the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 2018 Oscars. He and Keane took the stage, and, after the latter spoke, Bryant chimed in.

“As basketball players, we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble,” he began his speech. “But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.” He went on to thank the Academy, composer John Williams, Verizon, and, of course his family. “You are my inspiration,” he said to them.

The Academy Awards will honor him this year

On Jan. 26, 2020, Bryant, along with several others, including his daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, north of Los Angeles. This occurred on the day of the Grammy Awards, and Bryant was honored there more than once.

Now, ahead of the 2020 Academy Awards, it has been announced that Bryant will also be honored at this ceremony, both as a prominent Los Angeles figure and a past Oscar winner. Perhaps, this will even lead to a way to watch Dear Basketball in full on a streaming service.