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Kobe Bryant's Oscar-Winning Short Film 'Dear Basketball' Has Been Released Online For Free

Kobe Bryant's Academy-Award winning short film has been released online for free as fans mourn the death of the sporting legend.

'Dear Basketball' is an animated love letter to the sport, which was created and narrated by Bryant and released in 2017 at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The story is based around the icon's retirement announcement, a letter that he wrote to The Player's Tribune in 2015 at the end of his stellar 20-year career.

The emotional short opens showing Kobe in his famous number '24' Lakers jersey before spinning back in time to show the star as a youngster, playing basketball in his bedroom using socks to shoot hoops.

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"Dear Basketball, from the moment I started rolling my dad's tube socks and shooting imaginary game-winning shots in the Great Western Forum, I knew one thing was real -- I fell in love with you," the film begins.

"A love so deep, I gave you my all, from my mind and body, my spirit and soul," Bryant adds.

Image: Vimeo.

The story goes on to show a young Kobe watching tape of Lakers games from the late '80s, transitioning into scenes of him at work on the court, surrounded by thousands of cheering fans.

Kobe's farewell to the game is poignant and considered with his deep love of basketball tempered by the realisation that he was "ready to let you go", understanding he needed to listen to his body.

"No matter what I do next, I'll always be that kid with the rolled-up socks, garbage can in the corner, five seconds from the clock, ball in my hands," he adds.

'Dear Basketball' was scored by legendary composer John Williams ('Star Wars', 'Schindler's List', 'Jaws') and animated by Disney 's Glen Keane ('Aladdin', 'Pochahontas', 'The Little Mermaid').

Keane spoke to The New York Times following Bryant's shock death, describing Kobe as "the most passionate man who was led by his heart and his intellect".

"He was a great thinker with an insatiable hunger for learning: As soon as he stepped into animation, he eagerly began soaking up every aspect of it," Keane said. "Working with him was a dream and one of the high points of my career."

The film went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018 which was presented by Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill and Kelly Marie Tran.

"As basketball players, we're really supposed to shut up and dribble, but I'm glad we did a little bit more than that," Kobe joked in his acceptance speech, adding that his wife and daughters were his inspiration.

The film has been released by Bryant's production company Granity the day after the basketballer was killed in a helicopter crash that also took the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, as well as seven others.

You can watch 'Dear Basketball' over here on the film's official website.

Main Image: Getty/Granity.