Legendary animator Glen Keane is teaming up with retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant to turn Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” retirement poem from the Players Tribune into a short, animated film which will debut in the fall.
Bryant will provide the narration for the short, which is to be directed by Keane who is best known for his incredible work on classic films such as “Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Tangled.” Adding to this already impressive lineup will be five-time Oscar-winning composer John Williams whose credits include “Star Wars,” “Jaws,” the “Indiana Jones” series, “E.T.,” “Jurassic Park” and the “Harry Potter” films, who will write the score for the animated “ode to basketball”.
The deal was formed by Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated Group with Bryant’s new production company, Kobe Studios, along with production company Believe Entertainment Group. Under the agreement, ‘Dear Basketball’ will have its premier as a short film on the SI.com slate for the fall of 2016. Bryant also gave exclusive access to Sports Illustrated for the project, speaking about what “Dear Basketball” means to him and how came together. The “Dear Basketball” collaboration will include video, text and interviews with Bryant and other key players across SI Group platforms along with the animated short to stream on SI.com.
“’Dear Basketball’ is the perfect tribute to something I’ve loved for so long. Glen and John are two legends in their industries, so to partner with them on the creative process is a dream come true,” Bryant said in a prepared statement. “Working with Sports Illustrated on this special project is an amazing opportunity to hopefully inspire fans all over the world.”
Here is the poem that the short will be based on:
From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
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,