Family, friends and fans across the world are all still reeling over the news that Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash over the weekend. Since Sunday, many have been searching for his Oscar-winning animated short Dear Basketball to watch online. That’s proven quite difficult, as the film was never released in any wide capacity, and wasn’t available on Youtube. Now, that’s all changed, as Kobe Bryant’s Granity Studios has uploaded the short to Vimeo for free for everyone to watch.
Granity Studios was behind the animated Basketball poem come to life, which was written by Kobe Bryant himself. The NBA All-Star wrote the poem to announce his retirement from basketball back in November 2015. The poem originally showed up on The Players’ Tribune, a site that publishes first-person accounts from pro-athletes.
Clocking in at under just five minutes, the unique animation style tells the story of one young boy living out his basketball dreams. Kobe Bryant narrated Dear Basketball himself, and it was animated by Greg Keane, son of The Family Circus comic strip creator Bil Keane. Oscar-winning composure John Williams, who is behind some of the biggest movies of all time including Star Wars and Jaws, created the musical score, and also served as an inspiration to Kobe Bryant.
In an interesting twist, it was actually Star Wars icon Mark Hamill who handed Kobe Bryant his Oscar at the Academy Awards, standing beside Kellie Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac and BB-8. Bryant was a fan of Star Wars and John Williams, and it was quite exciting for the athlete to have this connection. About the music in the short John Williams had this to say to The Times back in 2017.
“It is elegiac, but it isn’t weepy. It strikes its own manner of saluting the man and the game and the accomplishments with a lot of modesty. I think it’s very touching, and in the end, that may be its highest achievement – that it’s able to praise this man the way it does, without a lot of false vanity or hubris that could easily have spilled into it.”
Dear Basketball won the Best Animated Short Oscars back in 2018. The film was available on Verizon’s go90 platform, but the platform was later canceled that same year. Since that time, some bootleg copies have shown up on various platforms such as Youtube and Dailymotion, but were in violation of copyright laws. Some of the illegal videos, including a tribute edited together by a fan, were being presented by various media outlets as the real thing.
There is also a 2015 documentary called Kobe Bryant’s Muse produced by Showtime that is now available to watch on Hulu, Sling TV and On Demand, where it can be rented on Amazon, Youtube and Google Play. That movie runs 83-Minutes and is directed by Gotham Chopra. It includes footage of Kobe Bryant’s childhood and covers the injuries that sidelined his NBA career. The athlete stated at the time that he made the movie because he didn’t have the patience to write a book himself. This free upload of Dear Basketball was first announced by The Los Angeles Times.