Kobe Bryant can add Oscar winner to his resume that already includes five NBA championship wins, two Olympic gold medals and an NBA MVP honor.
The former Los Angeles Lakers player, 39, took home the Best Animated Short award Sunday night for Dear Basketball. His director and animator Glen Keane thanked Bryant for helping write their award-winning short film.
“It’s a message for all of us,” Keane said in his acceptance speech. “Whatever form your dream may take, it’s through passion and perseverance that it’s possible.”
Bryant chimed in, “Well I don’t know if anything is possible. As a basketball player we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble.”
Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham used the phrase “shut up and dribble” last month when she told Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James to stop commenting on politics.
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“‘I feel better than winning the championship,” Bryant told reporters following his victory. “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. 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. 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.”
The former guard, who said he’s working on five novels, also explained why he decided to get political on the Oscars stage. “For us, not just as athletes, but as people in general, we have the ability to speak up for what it is that we believe in; whether you’re an athlete or not, whether you’re an actor or not,” Bryant continued in the press room. “We have the ability to speak up as well as people have a right to criticize. It’s the democracy that we live in. That’s what makes America beautiful.”
Fellow NBA alum Earvin “Magic” Johnson also showed his support for Bryant.
“Congratulations to my good friend @kobebryant for winning the Oscar for best animated short film,” Johnson, 58, tweeted. “Well deserved!”
The 2018 Oscars were held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4 and were telecast live on ABC.
- Reporting by MIKE MILLER, BRIANNE TRACY