The 2020 Oscars "In Memoriam" segment brought tears to eyes everywhere on Sunday night, and fans of the late Kobe Bryant who missed the moment can now see the clip that opened by honoring the NBA icon. As Grammy-winning singer Billie Eilish began to sing the Beatles classic "Yesterday," Bryant's image was the first one shown on the screen memorializing all those from the film industry who passed away over the lat year. Bryant was featured after winning the Oscar in 2018 for Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball, which was an animated film based on a poem Bryant wrote to announce his retirement from professional basketball.
Dear Basketball had a profound impact on Bryant's fans, and featured lines such as, "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 well as "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."
Bryant accepted the award alongside Glen Keane — the short film's animator — who worked on movies like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Tarzan.
In their acceptance speech, Keane said, "It's a message for all of us: Whatever form your dream may take, it's through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible."
Bryant jokingly replied, "I don't know if it's possible. I mean, as basketball players, we're really supposed to shut up and dribble, but I'm glad we did a little bit more than that."
He then went on to end his speech by thanking his family, saying, "To my wife, Vanessa; our daughters, Natalia, Gianna, and Bianka; ti amo con tutto il cuore. You are my inspiration. Thank you so much." Notably, "ti amo con tutto il cuore" translates from Italian to "I love you with all my heart."
Following Bryant's death, Keane spoke out about his film partner, saying, "Kobe was the most passionate man who was led by his heart and his intellect. He was a great thinker with an insatiable hunger for learning: As soon as he stepped into animation, he eagerly began soaking up every aspect of it. Working with him was a dream and one of the high points of my career."
On Jan. 26, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, along with the aircraft's pilot and six other passengers. The crash has since been ruled an accident.