By Maureen Lee Lenker
January 26, 2020 at 04:26 PM EST
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Amidst the legacy Kobe Bryant has left behind, there stands the title Oscar winner.

The legendary basketball player, who reportedly died at 41 on Sunday morning in a helicopter crash, won an Oscar back in 2018 in the category of Best Animated Short. He took home the gold for his film Dear Basketball, which is based on his 2015 poem of the same name that he wrote after announcing his retirement from the Lakers at the end of the 2015-2016 season. Bryant collaborated with renowned animation director Glen Keane and composer John Williams for the venture.

At the time of his nomination, Bryant tweeted his gratitude and disbelief, writing, “This is beyond the realm of imagination. Thanks to the genius of @GlenKeanePrd & John Williams for taking my poem to this level. It’s an honor to be on this team.”

He then went on to win the Oscar at the March 2018 ceremony, where he took to the stage to say, “As basketball players we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. I’m glad we’re doing much more than that.” Bryant was referencing controversial comments by Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham. He also thanked Williams, and his wife and daughters.

Bryant’s win was not without controversy. Many supporters of the #MeToo movement on social media criticized Bryant’s win in light of the 2003 sexual assault allegations against the former basketball player.

Bryant was all smiles, however, when he joined late night host Jimmy Kimmel on Kimmel’s ABC show the week after the ceremony. “This is not supposed to happen,” he said. “I’m supposed to play basketball, not write something that wins an Oscar.”

He also framed the moment as an opportunity for him to reflect on how he might continue to make change in the entertainment industry. “Now there’s a greater sense of responsibility. How do I provide more opportunities for even more diverse and new voices to be heard in this industry?” he added. “In the animation business, there’s a serious lack of diversity.”

Bryant’s win was a golden achievement amongst a long list, which included 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA team, and winner of five NBA championships during his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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