Why did Kobe Bryant win an Oscar? Remembering his Academy Award for short film 'Dear Basketball'

In 2018, Kobe Bryant became the first former professional athlete to be nominated for and win an Academy Award after his film "Dear Basketball" won Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars.

"As basketball players we're really supposed to shut up and dribble. I'm glad we're doing much more than that," Bryant said during his acceptance speech.

Bryant's animated short film "Dear Basketball" is based on the poem he wrote in 2015 when he announced his retirement from the NBA. The film was directed by Glen Keane, who created the hand-drawn animations. The score was made by legendary composer John Williams, who agreed to help Bryant as the two were friendly with one another.

Williams spoke to the New York Times following Bryant's death on Jan. 26.

MORE: Your version of Kobe doesn't need to match anyone else's

"During my friendship with Kobe, he was always seeking to define and understand inspiration even while modestly, and almost unknowably, he was an inspiration to countless millions," Williams said. "His enormous potential contribution to unity, understanding and social justice must now be mourned with him."

Keane told the Times how passionate Bryant became about the film once he started really working on it.

"Kobe was the most passionate man who was led by his heart and his intellect. He was a great thinker with an insatiable hunger for learning: As soon as he stepped into animation, he eagerly began soaking up every aspect of it," Keane said. "Working with him was a dream and one of the high points of my career."

Why did Kobe Bryant win an Oscar?

Bryant won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. The film that won was titled "Dear Basketball," and it was based on the poem Bryant wrote when he announced his retirement from the NBA. He was the first African-American ever to win in this category.

Watch Kobe Bryant's Oscar speech

Ahead of Bryant's Oscar win, he told The Undefeated what it felt like to be nominated.

"I've always been told that as basketball players the expectation is that you play. This is all you know. This is all you do. Don't think about handling finances. Don't think about going into business. Don't think that you want to be a writer — that's cute. I got that a lot. What do you want to do when you retire? 'Well, I want to be a storyteller.' That's cute.

"This is ... a form of validation for people to look and say, 'OK, he really can do something other than dribble and shoot.'"

Watch "Dear Basketball," Kobe Bryant's Oscar-winning film

Unfortunately, there is no official way to watch the full version of "Dear Basketball."

The film was initially hosted online to watch for free by go90, but the company was shut down on July 31, 2018. After go90 shut down, the video was no longer accessible and was never made available afterwards.

How did Kobe Bryant win an Oscar?

Bryant set up a great team around him. Keane worked for Walt Disney Animation Studios from 1974-2012. He served as a supervising animator on films such as "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin," among others. In 2007, he won the Winsor McCay Award, which is given for lifetime contributions to the field of animation.

He also recruited Williams for the score of "Dear Basketball." Williams is perhaps best known for his music on "Star Wars," but he's worked on so much more than just that franchise. He has 52 Academy Award nominations, which makes him the second most-nominated individual after Walt Disney.

MORE: How Kobe turned a "hater" into an admirer

In addition to the team around him, Bryant contributed plenty by himself. He provided the source m

aterial for the film, his poem under the same name.

"I always enjoyed writing," Bryant told The Undefeated. "I had a really great teacher who taught me the art of storytelling and writing and composition. When I came to the league, I kept writing, kept practicing. When I got injured and we were making a news film — that's when it kicked in for me.

"I found enjoyment in writing that film, and writing each chapter ... What should we do next? That's what really kicked it off."

2018 Oscar nominations: Short film (animated)

Below are the other nominations in Bryant's category.

    Dear Basketball (winner)Garden PartyLou (Walt Disney)Negative SpaceRevolting Rhymes