Kobe Bryant attended the same event in 2018, weeks before winning his Oscar for Dear Basketball

By Nigel Smith
January 27, 2020 04:37 PM

Hollywood’s A-list mourned Kobe Bryant a day after his shocking death at the annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon on Monday. Bryant had attended the same event in 2018, weeks before winning the Best Animated Short Film Oscar for Dear Basketball.

Welcoming this year’s Oscar nominees to the event in Beverly Hills, Academy president David Rubin said, “We should take this moment to acknowledge Kobe Bryant, 2018 winner.”

“He was probably the most excited person to be in the room as an Oscar nominee,” he added, per The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg, before asking for a moment of silence from everyone in attendance.

The basketball legend died at age 41 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, along with eight other people on Sunday — including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

Bryant created Dear Basketball as a tribute to the game he dedicated his life to. The story began as a poem under the same title, published in The Players’ Tribune in 2015 during his final season playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

After winning his Oscar for the short, which is available to stream here, Bryant told reporters backstage at the ceremony that he had always dreamt of writing.

“I feel better than winning the championship,” Bryant said. “I swear. Growing up as a kid, I dreamt of winning championships and worked really hard. But then to have something like this come out of left field.”

Kobe Bryant
Steve Granitz/WireImage

“I heard a lot of people tell me, ‘What are you going to do when you retire?’ I want to be a writer and a storyteller,” he continued. “I got a lot of, ‘That’s cute.’ I got that a lot. To be here right now and have a sense of validation, this is crazy.”

Bryant wrote and narrated the short, which followed his career from his childhood to his eventual retirement.

He is survived by his wife Vanessa, 37, and three of their four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.

The 92nd Annual Academy Awards will air live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.