Kobe Bryant's Oscar-winning film 'Dear Basketball' reflects his love for the sport

The news of Kobe Bryant’s death came as a shock to many across Hollywood.

January 26, 2020, 7:27 PM

The news of Kobe Bryant's death on Sunday came as a shock to many across Hollywood and the sports world.

On the court, he was a basketball legend, but off the court, Bryant was able to blend his passion in every aspect of his life, including in film.

In 2018, Bryant won an Oscar for his animated short film, "Dear Basketball," based on a short, heartfelt love letter he wrote to the game in "The Players' Tribune." It was his first Oscar nomination and win.

The basketball star wrote the piece in 2015, before retiring the following year, to say goodbye to the game he was part of for almost a quarter of a century.

PHOTO:Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane at The 90th Oscars, March, 4, 2018, in Hollywood, Calif.
Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane at The 90th Oscars, March, 4, 2018, in Hollywood, Calif.
Craig Sjodin/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

In the piece, Bryant reflected on how he got started in the sport, what he loved most about it and the lessons he learned from the game.

"Storytelling has always been something I've been interested in since I was a kid," he told ABC News in an interview in 2016.

He acquired the help of Glen Keane, the iconic animator of films like "Tarzan," "The Little Mermaid" and "Pocahontas" as well as the help of John Williams, the composer behind "Star Wars" and "Jurassic Park" films, to produce the animated short.

Bryant was the star of the film and narrated it as well.

When his animated short premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017, the basketball star stopped by "Good Morning America" to talk about his inspiration for the film and love for the sport.

"I couldn't put the basketball down," he told "Good Morning America" in 2017 when he stopped by the show. "When my parents bought me a brand new basketball, I found myself laying in bed and shooting with it and then I'd fall asleep with it. And I'd get up in the morning and then I'd play again and I just could not stop."

Basketball ran in the family. His father, Joseph Washington Bryant, was a retired professional basketball player and coached for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. Bryant was also the nephew of basketball player John "Chubby" Cox of the NBA's Chicago Bulls.

"When you're at school and you try to do your homework in school so you can go home and play basketball all day, that's when you know it's serious," said Bryant of his love for the sport.

Bryant was eventually drafted by the NBA in 1996 and went on to win five NBA championships.

And although his basketball career ended in 2016, Bryant's love for the sport shined in every aspect of his life, including in his short written piece.

"I tried to write it in a visual way versus simply coming out and saying, 'This is how I feel,' and tried to put it through story," he told "GMA" in 2017. "So you see the dedication and the commitment through rolling my dad's tube socks. You see it through all the VHS tapes of all past games. So you can see the growth, you can see the love."

The basketball legend died in a helicopter crash Sunday outside of Calabasas, California, with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who was also on board.

"I thought it looked just like Gianna, our daughter." Bryant told "GMA" of his young self from the animated feature. "I looked at the face and I was like, 'Oh my god, it looks just like Gigi.'"

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