When Kobe Bryant wrote a love letter to the game of basketball to announce his retirement, few would have guessed that it would ultimately earn him an Academy Award.
But it did, and Bryant became the first professional athlete to do so.
Fans still reeling from the sudden and shocking death of the sports icon have turned out in droves to watch the emotional short film adapted from the letter, although it may prove to be difficult; the film has been pulled from major streaming services.
According to an article published on “Vanity Fair,” Bryant’s short film was available to stream for a short time on certain streaming services, although it can no longer be found.
The trailer for the film can still be seen on the film’s official website, but the video appears to be unavailable to (legally) stream.
The film can still be seen on several unofficial websites.
With the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences set to honor Bryant during their “In Memoriam” segment Sunday night, demand for the video appears to be even greater.
Directed and animated by Glen Keane, who has credits from several Disney films, “Dear Basketball” was Bryant’s send-off from the game he had played and loved all his life.
Keane and Bryant, who had not previously known one another, bonded while making the short, with Keane ultimately coming away most impressed by Bryant’s love for his family.
“We gathered around my animation desk as I drew the Beast, Ariel, and Pocahontas for his girls,” he wrote in a Guest Column for The Hollywood Reporter.
“I remember how close he was to his girls, and how close this family felt. The image that will now forever be etched in my mind is of Gianna nestled in his lap, so content with Kobe stroking her beautiful hair. So much love!”
The pairing would prove a worthy one, as both Bryant and Keane produced the film to rave reviews, most of which praised its top-notch quality and impressive storytelling.
More than anything, it proved that Bryant could — and was — more than just an athlete.
In his acceptance speech that night, Bryant appeared to be looking forward to a bright “second act” in his life.
“I don’t know if it’s possible,” Bryant said as he held his Oscar. “I mean, as basketball players, we are really supposed to shut up and dribble. But I am glad we do a little bit more than that.”
He thanked his wife and his three daughters, naming each of them individually.
“You are my inspiration,” he told them, before telling reporters after the show that winning the Oscar was “better than winning a championship.”