LOS ANGELES: Kobe Bryant is a winner in retirement, too.
The former Los Angeles Lakers star won an Oscar in the animated short category for “Dear Basketball,” a poem he wrote after ending his 20-year career on the court in 2016.
He’ll add it to an already jammed trophy collection that includes five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals, NBA Finals most valuable player awards, a league MVP award and four All-Star game MVP awards.
As executive producer, Bryant accepted his golden Oscar statue from “Star Wars” star Mark Hamill on Sunday night. He shared the award with Disney animator Glen Keane.
Among those offering their congratulations via Twitter were Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s former Lakers teammate who admitted, “I’m jealous lol.”
Since hanging up his basketball shoes, Bryant has delved into business (a new Nike shoe) and various forms of storytelling.
The 39-year-old sports superstar believed the nomination validated that he could succeed off the court.
“As basketball players, we’re told to shut up and dribble,” Bryant said on stage. “I’m glad we did a little bit more than that.”
He thanked his wife, Vanessa, and his three daughters, naming each of them. He spoke a few words of Italian _ a language he learned as a child growing up in Italy _ and closed by telling them, “You are my inspiration.”