In addition to an NBA MVP award and two NBA Finals MVP awards, Kobe Bryant was also an Oscar winner.
Bryant received an Oscar in 2018 as the producer of the best animated short film, “Dear Basketball,” based on the poem he wrote announcing his retirement.
“I feel better than winning a championship, to be honest, I swear I do,” Bryant said backstage at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018.
When the former Los Angeles Lakers guard told friends and colleagues that he wanted to be a writer and a filmmaker, they humored him, he said.
“That’s cute, that’s cute … I got that a lot,” Bryant said.
“The hardest thing for athletes to do is … you really have to quiet the ego” to begin all over again, he said.
An Oscar gave him “a sense of validation,” Bryant said.
Asked how the business of storytelling differs from sports, Bryant said, “I think the hardest part about it … is when you’re playing basketball … (you need to) get out of the way of yourself … in writing, it feels like you have to get into a deeper connection with yourself.”
Making the short film took him well out of his comfort zone.
His then-11-year-old daughter, Gianna, who was killed with him and seven other people in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, helped push him forward, Bryant said, by telling him, “You always tell us to go after our dreams, so man up.”
Working with composer John Williams — who has won five Oscars among his 52 nominations — didn’t hurt.
“John speaks about music as if each key has its own soul,” Bryant said. “It’s just an amazing experience … he’s a real life Obi-Wan Kenobi.”
Bryant also said he had some great mentors.
He remembered calling talk show host and producer Oprah Winfrey for advice and spending an hour on the phone with her “walking me through every step of the way … how she built Harpo (Productions),” the multimedia production company she founded.
Television producer Shonda Rhimes was another source of inspiration and help.
“You just continue to learn from the best of the best of the best,” Bryant said.