Dear Basketball, the critically acclaimed animated short film written and narrated by Kobe Bryant is poignant, heartwrenching piece of work. The film, which arrived as a creative outpouring of emotion, managed to draw the curtain on Bryant’s career as a professional athlete, a career that reached the pinnacle its sport and secured his legacy as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
The post-retirement life of Bryant proved to be as a hectic as the one on the court, the iconic figurehead of basketball continuing to plough his energy into more ambitious projects and, in doing so, transmitted his fiercely competitive edge into everything he attempted with prolific success—none more so than Dear Basketball, his record-breaking creation.
The film, directed by Glen Keane, was based on the letter Kobe Bryant wrote to The Players’ Tribune in 2015 when announcing his retirement from basketball. Following its release, Dear Basketball claimed victory in the category of ‘Best Animated Short Film’ at the 90th Academy Awards and like a lot of Bryant’s achievements, it made history in doing so.
Bryant became the first African American to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in the Oscars’ long history and, on top of that, he became the first former professional athlete to be nominated and to win an Academy Award in any category.
Read Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ poem and watch the short film, below.
From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
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.
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,