Kobe Bryant's influence spread far beyond the basketball court, and entertainment was where he saw his future. While sports fans around the world mourned the unexpected death of the iconic 41-year-old athlete on Sunday, those who worked with him in Hollywood were also shaken by the loss.
In addition to his five NBA championship victories, Bryant also won an Oscar, claiming the best short animated statuette in 2018 for the sweet and inspiring autobiographical story "Dear Basketball", based on a poem he wrote when he retired from the sport. in 2015. Bryant saw a future for himself in entertainment, founding Granity Studios to create movies, TV shows and books with sports themes.
"The best way to inspire the next generation of athletes is through stories," said Bryant in a post-screening question and answer session for "Dear Basketball" at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. "You can sit here and say things, say & # 39; you need to dedicate yourself and work hard & # 39; & # 39; of stories, tends to sink deeper. "
Last September, his company published the young adult novel Legacy and the Queen, a hybrid sport and magical fantasy written by author Annie Matthew from a Bryant story. The book follows a 12-year-old tennis player named Legacy who sees winning a tournament in her kingdom as a way to save an orphanage that protects children her age who have no one else to look after them. Weekly Editors praised the book, saying it had "a lot of charm, and Legacy is a protagonist worth cheering for".
Bryant also created the radio play podcast The Punies, about an unpleasant and diverse group of kids from the neighborhood, each pursuing big sporting dreams. The series, which featured fictional 15-minute stories and playful original music, debuted last August and a second season it was supposedly in progress.
Like much of his dynamic career on the court, "Dear Basketball" was a powerful entertainment move. Bryant shared his Oscar victory with director Glen Keane, who animated the title characters in the Disney films The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas and Tarzan. The athlete's narration was accompanied by a sweeping score by legendary composer John Williams.
There were still barriers to entry into Hollywood for Bryant. Despite the Oscar victory, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not offer membership, claiming a lack of experience in cinema. The 2003 accusations that he raped a 19-year-old woman also haunted his career as a filmmaker and storyteller, just as he always appeared in his basketball career. (The case was closed in 2004, when the woman refused to testify, but the #MeToo movement raised concerns about how the investigation into the sport's powerful figure unfolded.)
More than 17,000 people signed a petition demanding that Bryant's Oscar nomination be revoked for the accused rape. When the case was dismissed in 2004, Bryant issued an apology while maintaining, he did not think he had committed a crime. "Although I really believe that this meeting between us was consensual, I now recognize that she did not see and does not see this incident in the same way that I do," he wrote.
In the nearly two decades that have passed since Bryant had four daughters with his wife, Vanessa. One of these daughters, Gigi, 13, was also killed in the helicopter crash. After retiring from basketball, Bryant said the girls had a profound impact on the entertainment work he planned to do.
"What happens with creating all the stories that come out of our studios focuses on our personal experiences with our children, generally," he said in an interview in September 2019 with the Bleacher Report. “And I certainly in particular, having the girls at home and trying to figure out how to communicate positive messages to them, they get tired of listening to me and Vanessa talking about it all the time, so it's important to put it in different forms of media, so it looks like it's not coming from us. This tends to be the inspiration behind most of the ideas that come out of our studio. "
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