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Lessons from Kobe Bryant’s Dear Basketball

Photo with a lakers gym floor in the background and green swoosh on top

It’s not often that a professional athlete writes a letter to their passion. But, Kobe Bryant wasn’t a normal athlete. In the wake of his tragic death, he left so many of us inspired.

What can we learn from Kobe and his Oscar-winning short film, Dear Basketball?


Communicate about your passion.

No matter your passion, being able to communicate what it is, why it motivates you and how you can influence others is where greatness lies. Kobe had an ability to share why basketball was important to him and this allowed him to share that with others. It is no different than the scientist who shares about a recent discovery. Or a startup pitching on Shark Tank or a nurse motivating a patient to get better. Being able to communicate about your passion is just as important as finding it.

Your passion will lead you to other opportunities.

Kobe likely never saw himself winning an Oscar. Winning an Oscar wasn’t his goal, but being the best basketball player was. No matter the arena, when you live your life with that kind of passion, your success doesn’t know boundaries. How many successful interviews have we seen where someone says later in life, “I never thought I would get to experience so much.” It could be the singer that gets to star in a movie or a business professional like Mark Cuban, who stars on TV. In Kobe’s case, his success began at an early age, but even when he went to the NBA straight from High School, he admitted that the players around him didn’t welcome him.

Teach others about your passion.

Perhaps the most viewed videos on the Internet this week were ones of Kobe teaching his daughter Gigi about the game of basketball. It touches us not just because we see her potential, but because we see a superstar being selfless. We see him giving not for himself, but for someone else to be great.

There are so many lessons from lives that are lived with a fierce commitment to their passions. It’s not always the lessons from on the court, but often the ones we learn off the court.


Classroom Conversation Starters

How can we learn to create better content from watching Dear Basketball?

Consider playing the video for the class (preferably the audio without the illustration first). For context, Kobe wrote this as a letter the year before he retired.

  • What are the visuals that you see if you read his letter?
  • Can you feel a sock rolling into a ball when you visualize it?
  • What is something you are passionate about? When did it begin?
  • What does it mean when he says, “I never saw the end of the tunnel”?
  • What did Kobe have to overcome in this story?
  • How does Kobe tie the beginning of the letter to the end?

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