Oscars 2020: Hair Love Director Dedicates Win to Kobe Bryant

Hair Love, a story of a man who must do is daughter's hair for the first time, won Best Animated Short at Sunday night's 92nd Academy Awards and while producer Karen Rupert Toliver and director Matthew A. Cherry took the time to address the importance of representation in animation and support the Crown Act, Cherry did something else that touched fans. Cherry dedicated Hair Love's win to legendary NBA superstar and a previous Best Animated Short winner Kobe Bryant, honoring the late great who died late last month along with his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

"This award is dedicated to Kobe Bryant," Cherry said. "May we all have a second act as great as his was. Thank you."

While most fans know Bryant for his impressive, prolific NBA career, Bryant had turned his attention to Hollywood after retiring from the game. In 2018 he won the Best Animated Short Oscar for the film Dear Basketball, in which he narrates an emotional speech bidding farewell to the game that changed his life and made him not just an icon, but a legend of the sport.

Cherry's honoring of Bryant won't be the only moment in Sunday's awards presentation that will take a moment to remember Bryant. Producer Stephanie Allain confirmed last week that Bryant would be included in the "In Memoriam" package that's put together each year for the Academy Awards ceremony.

In addition to the formal honoring of Bryant and his legacy, Bryant was also honored on the red carpet. Filmmaker Spike Lee attended the ceremony on Sunday night dressed in a purple and gold tuxedo adorned with the number 24 -- nod to Bryant's jersey number.

Back in 2009, the two worked together when Lee debuted a documentary about the NBA champion called Kobe Doin’ Work. The film premiered at the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival in May of that year. A lot of people got a kick out of being able to hear Bryant break down the game in his own voice years before the superstar got his own series on ESPN. There was also the fun of hearing him miked up for game action and seeing him playing in real-time. The Oscar-winning filmmaker talked to the network about the process of working with Kobe and what drove him to pursue the project.

“There was a great film on the soccer star [Zinedine] Zidane ["Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait"] that was done, and they had several cameras on him for one game,” Lee explained. “And I liked the whole "one game" approach and said, "I think this will work just as good or better for basketball." We had 30 cameras for Kobe, had a mic on him, coach Phil Jackson let us come into the locker room to shoot, and with the help of commissioner Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver, [team owner] Dr. [Jerry] Buss, Jeanie Buss and again, coach Jackson, we were able to get it done.”

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Were you excited that Hair Love won Best Animated Short? What did you think of Cherry's dedication to Bryant? Let us know in the comments below.

(Photo credit: Jason Miller / Getty Images)

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