This is the Tear-Jerking Short Film That Won Kobe Bryant An Oscar

'You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream and I’ll always love you for it.'

The late Kobe Bryant was a force of nature on and off the court. Just two years after his retirement, Bryant translated his love and gratitude for the game into an Oscar-winning film called Dear Basketball. Released on April 23, 2017, at the Tribeca Film Festival, Dear Basketball is based on the letter of the same name that Bryant wrote as a retirement statement to The Players’ Tribute on November 29, 2015.

Photo by IMDB.

In 2018, the short film won Bryant his first and only Oscar after Dear Basketball was awarded the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Written and narrated by Bryant, the film was also directed and animated by Disney veteran Glen Keane with music composed by John Williams. The film was produced by Kobe Inc., Granily Studios, and Believe Entertainment Group.

The five-minute short film doubles as a love letter and a goodbye letter, describing how Bryant’s early love for the game turned into a 20-year glorious career. It was lauded for being poignant and concise, and made basketball lovers tear up at Bryant’s professed love for basketball. But watching it now, just hours after the legend’s death, the short film takes on a new meaning—because for many, it’s Kobe we have to thank for shaping our love for the game.


Watch the full film below:

Watch Kobe’s acceptance speech at the Oscars below:

Read the full letter here:

“Dear Basketball,

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all—
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

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And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,

Here’s to the Bryants, Kobe and Gigi, who are probably playing the best one-on-one game in heaven right now.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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