Dear Basketball – Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning retirement letter

Basketball great Kobe Bryant, who has died in a helicopter crash at the age of 41, also won an Oscar in 2018.

The five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in the incident in California on Sunday.

In 2015, Bryant announced his retirement from basketball in the following letter, which was turned into an animated short film that won an Oscar at the 90th Academy Awards.

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 and body, to my spirit and 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 the 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.

Tribute have been paid to Bryant following his death in a helicopter crash
Tribute have been paid to Bryant following his death in a helicopter crash

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 savour every moment we have left together. The good and the bad.

We have given each other all that we have.

That time Kobe: A thread

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 24, 2019

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, five seconds on the clock, ball in my hands.

Five… four… three… two… one…

Love you always,