Retired basketball player Kobe Bryant. Picture: Instagram

Retired Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant added another accolade to his large trophy case, with his first ever award for his animated short film ‘Dear Basketball’. 

The short film is based on poem that Bryant wrote back in 2015, when he had announced his impending retirement from basketball. The former basketball player read his speech out in disbelief, as he stood with his award, sending thanks to his wife, his children, adding a few more words in Italian (he spent most of his childhood in Italy), before ending with, “You are my inspiration”.

Bryant said on the stage that when he wanted to start writing and tell his stories after retiring from basketball, Bryant said that people’s reaction was, “That’s cute. You’ll be depressed when your career’s over. To be here now and have this sense of validation, this is crazy, man”. 

Bryant further comments by ripping Laura Ingraham, “I’m so glad we can do more than ‘shut up and dribble’”. This comment follows Ingraham’s reaction to NBA player Lebron James who commented on the political issues plaguing the United States of America.  

Bryant’s poem begins with: “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”. 

Bryant said that the inspiration to make his poem into a short animated film, came from his 11 year-old daughter, Gianna, who had told him, “Dad, you always tell us to go after our dreams, so man up”.

NBA Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Bill Russell sent their message of thanks via Twitter, with Bryant’s former Los Angeles Lakers teammates also sent their messages of congratulations. Bryant received the award from ‘Star Wars’ actor mark Hamill, and shares the award with Disne
y animator Glen Keane. 

Bryant, 39, is a five-time NBA champion and an 18-time All-Star, who played twenty seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and made two appearances for  the USA basketball team at the Beijing and London Olympics before retiring, following the 2015-16 season.