Kobe Bryant’s achievements were not limited to the basketball court. In addition to receiving accolades for his athletic performance, Bryant won an Oscar in 2018 for his animated short film, Dear Basketball.
Bryant, who died Sunday following a helicopter crash that also killed his daughter Gianna and 7 others, created the film as a tribute to the game he dedicated his life to. The story began as a poem under the same title, published in The Players’ Tribune in 2015 during his final season playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
After winning the award for Best Animated Short Film, which is available to stream here, Bryant told reporters he had always dreamt of writing.
“I feel better than winning the championship,” Bryant said. “I swear. Growing up as a kid, I dreamt of winning championships and worked really hard. But then to have something like this come out of left field.”
“I heard a lot of people tell me, ‘What are you going to do when you retire?’ I want to be a writer and a storyteller,” he continued. “I got a lot of, ‘That’s cute.’ I got that a lot. To be here right now and have a sense of validation, this is crazy.”
Bryant wrote and narrated the short, which followed his career from his childhood to his eventual retirement. The athlete sought legendary composer John William’s help with the film’s score because of a sweet connection between the composer’s music and his daughters.
“‘Hedwig’s Theme’ [from the Harry Potter movies] puts Natalia to sleep, that has put Gianna to sleep, and now it puts Bianka to sleep,” Bryant told the Los Angeles Times in 2017. “I lay them on my chest and I hum it to them, and the vibrations of it just relaxes them.”
Bryant, 41, is survived by his wife Vanessa, 37, and three of their four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months. His fourth daughter, Gianna, 13, died alongside Bryant in the crash.
Williams, 87, said Bryant’s death is “a terrible and immeasurable loss” in a statement to The New York Times.
“During my friendship with Kobe, he was always seeking to define and understand inspiration even while modestly, and almost unknowably, he was an inspiration to countless millions,” Williams said. “His enormous potential contribution to unity, understanding and social justice must now be mourned with him.”