-Courtesy of Glen Keane Productions
Earlier this week Kobe Bryant won his first Oscar for the animated short of his written piece, Dear Basketball. Directed and animated by Glen Keane, the animated short brings to life the written story that Kobe wrote about his lifelong journey and relationship with basketball in his life. It romanticizes his 20 year career in the NBA and a lifelong drive that he had sacrificed everything for.
Seeing this written piece by Kobe converge as a visual adaptation was mesmerizing to me.
When I first read the written piece in the midst of his retirement, I was obviously emotional. Whenever you see a childhood hero leave view, (especially in sports which are naturally an emotional thing as is) it is so hard to go through the doorway to the next chapter. It’s surreal and always feels too soon. Kobe was my everything for a 20 year period. I remember watching the lob to shaq in the Western Conference Finals in 2000 versus Portland, the game 4 buzzer beater vs Sacramento in the 2002 Western Conference Finals by Horry, every late night staying up until 1:30 in the morning watching laker games during the middle of week with school the next day. I probably didn’t miss a single game for a 10 year stretch of my childhood. I could go on for days, but with all this being said, my point was that Kobe was my everything. Basketball was everything for me at the time. As the game got more difficult and I started to have injuries, I slowly had to part ways and find a new discourse that I had passion for.
Since I have always had artistic talents in the family, a natural tangent for me to explore was the visual arts. My father is a lifelong drummer, my mother did photography, my sister conceptual and performing art, and I have cousins that are illustrators and musicians. I was always surrounded with the inclination and environment that embraced a creative outlet. Basketball immediately became a center of focus for my earliest drawings and still is the most important content that exists within my work today. It goes way beyond the game of basketball. It also represents the culture and beautiful memories of my friends and I playing ball at the park every day in the summer. Those days and those memories are all embedded in the game I knew and the memories of Kobe Bryant.
-Glen Keane Productions
The Visual Short Dear Basketball gave me so many special feelings. Sure it let me relive all those beautiful memories of watching the Lakers play, but the joy of the animation and art solidified my purpose in my art and reassured my job, my drive, and a killer will. I was that boy in the film just the way Kobe studied the showtime Lakers and took shots in his room for fun, but this time I was watching Kobe do it. Seeing the film was just heartwarming and so sentimental. It translated the life of both the game and the heart inside that player that exists simultaneously. To see drawing, animation, film, and poetry rolled into one beautiful production made me so happy and hopeful for the development a more creative culture around sports. I always yearn for any opportunity to have basketball and the love of my craft to to come together in my artwork, which became the love of my own life. It is the foundation for the affinity I have had for Los Angeles and California my entire life; It is also the driving force behind this lifestyle/brand I try to build everyday. Learning so much about the West Coast and the lifestyle that exists there, was all largely derivative of the Hollywood tale that Kobe Bryant created for me as a kid. The drive, love, attention, and dedication he gave the game for his entire career was something I pointed to and said “I wanna be like that, no matter what I do in life”
Thank you Kobe Bryant for helping find my purpose in this world,
You have given me everything.
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,
-The Players Tribune
Watch the full film here: https://www.go90.com/videos/261MflWkD3N
-Glen Keane Productions