Kobe Bryant's first-ever movie was a slam dunk, with the NBA Hall of Famer winning the movie industry's top honor for his debut short film, Dear Basketball.
The film was shown at the end of Bryant's memorial service on Monday, capping off an emotional afternoon filled with tributes to the Los Angeles Lakers legend from friends, family, and dignitaries from the basketball world. Those who missed the service will still have the chance to watch Dear Basketball online.
As Variety reported, Kobe's production company made the film available for free following Kobe's death in January in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of eight others. The website has since taken down the full version and is instead hosting a 1-minute preview of the short film, and duplicate copies on YouTube and other streaming services had been taken down in the wake of Kobe's death.
Those who want to watch the film in full can check out the end of Kobe's memorial service (the movie starts at the 2:27:40 mark of the video), or watch a preview embedded below.The film is based on a poem that Kobe wrote in November 2015 for The Players' Tribune, a publication that features firsthand accounts from athletes. The poem was turned into a 5-minute-and-22-second story animated by Glen Keane and scored by Academy Award-winning composer John Williams.
In the poem, Bryant described how he fell in love with the game of basketball as a young child. At the time, Kobe's father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, was an NBA player and Kobe was immersed in the game.
"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. A love so deep I gave you my all -- from my mind & body to my spirit & soul," Bryant wrote in the poem.
"As a six-year-old boy deeply in love with you, I never saw the end of the tunnel. I only saw myself Running out of one. And so I ran. I ran up and down every court after every loose ball for you. You asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart. Because it came with so much more."
In announcing the film during Kobe's memorial service, host Jimmy Kimmel noted that Kobe's greatness on the basketball court immediately transferred over to the world of movies, as he won an Oscar on his very first film venture.