Kobe Bryant is an Oscars nominee.
Announced on Tuesday, the former Lakers star was nominated in the best animated short category for Dear Basketball alongside animator Glen Keane.
Dear Basketball, Bryant’s first film project, is based on the letter he wrote bidding farewell to the sport before his retirement in 2016.
Yet, Bryant’s nomination, which arrives as Hollywood continues to reckon with the histories of sexual misconduct in its ranks, also recalls his 2003 sexual-assault arrest, after a hotel employee in Eagle, Colo., accused Bryant of rape.
Bryant, then married, publicly admitted to having a sexual encounter with his accuser, but denied the assault allegation. The case was dropped after Bryant’s accuser refused to testify, with Bryant later settling a civil lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.
“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” Bryant said in a statement read by his attorney after the trial. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
Following his nomination, Bryant thanked his collaborators on Twitter, writing, “What? This is beyond the realm of imagination. It means so much that the @TheAcademy deemed #DearBasketball worthy of contention. Thanks to the genius of @GlenKeanePrd & John Williams for taking my poem to this level. It’s an honor to be on this team.”
After the nominations were announced, social media users began to react to Bryant’s inclusion and his history of alleged assault.
“Read the transcripts from the case. Read what that woman had to go through. What in the hell were Oscars voters thinking?” tweeted writer April Wolfe, while Women and Hollywood founder Melissa Silverstein wrote, “Congrats Academy you just nominated an accused rapist – Kobe Bryant for best animated short. #OscarNominations.”
Some Twitter users also pointed out that Bryant was nominated while James Franco, who was accused of sexual misconduct, had his Oscars campaign for The Disaster Artist derailed by the claims and was not nominated for an award on Tuesday.