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Reflections On Kobe Bryant’s Award-Winning Film ‘Dear Basketball’

Still from “Dear Basketball”

As we remember Kobe Bryant in the days following his tragic death, we’re revisiting the art that the basketball legend left behind.

The short film “Dear Basketball,” which earned Bryant an Oscar in 2018, is based on a poem that Bryant wrote where he announced his retirement from the game that he deeply cherished. Narrated by Bryant, it tells the story of his own personal journey with basketball, and a farewell to his first love. The film was animated by Disney’s Glen Keane and scored by John Williams.

“We’re going back and revisiting key moments of my life, figuring out how did that make me grow as a person,” Bryant told LA Times back in 2015. “I can’t lie — at the start of this process, I’m thinking this is going to be great. But when I actually started confronting the journey, there were moments that were scary…. At the end, it was therapeutic. It actually helped me deal with things that were affecting me that I had pushed to the side.”

Here is the full poem, courtesy of The Players’ Tribune.

“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.

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.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have. 

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,


The animation style is reminiscent of a dream, or a distant memory. Following the news of his death, the film becomes more poignant and even ethereal as we watch Bryant disappear into the light while saying “Love you always, Kobe.” Today, the film takes on an entirely new meaning as not only a heartfelt farewell to basketball, but in that last moment, perhaps to the world as well. 

Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a 26-year-old writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I’m into spirituality, nature walks, music festivals, poetry, traveling without a destination in mind, painting, and discussing everything out of the ordinary with other curious minds. Also, I'm an INFP!

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