NBA legend Kobe Bryant won the Oscar for best short animated film in Sunday’s award ceremony in Los Angeles.
The six-time NBA championship winner was recognised for Dear Basketball, a five-minute film based on a love letter to the sport he had written in 2015.
When Bryant ended his career in 2016, the LA Lakers retired the two jerseys he wore during his 20-year spell.
In accepting his award, the 39-year-old spoke in defence of athletes’ influence on cultural and political life.
He said: “As basketball players, we’re really supposed to shut up and dribble. But I’m glad we do a little bit more than that.
“Thank you, Academy, for this amazing honour.”
His words referenced comments made by Laura Ingraham, a Fox News presenter who criticised Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant and Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James for openly stating their opposition to US President Donald Trump.
She had said they “should keep the political commentary to themselves, or as somebody once said, shut up and dribble”.
Dear Basketball, written by Bryant and directed by Glen Keane, is based on a letter Bryant had published on The Players’ Tribune website, announcing his plans to retire from basketball.
Bryant remains the Lakers’ all-time point scorer – he only ever played for one team – and is third on the NBA’s all-time list with 33,643 points.