Mark Hamill recalls awarding Kobe Bryant with his Oscar as Hollywood mourns basketball icon

Ben Arnold
Contributor
TOPSHOT - Kobe Bryant poses in the press room with the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for "Dear Basketball," during the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Star Wars star Mark Hamill has recalled awarding Kobe Bryant with his Oscar in 2018, in a tribute to the basketball legend who died yesterday in a helicopter crash.

After Bryant retired from the sport in 2016, he moved into the worlds of philanthropy and film-making, writing and narrating the short animation Dear Basketball.

Read more: NBA legend Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash

The film was based on a poem that Bryant wrote on the eve of his retirement, published by The Player's Tribune, which detailed his love of the sport, set to music by veteran film score composer John Williams.

Directed by former Disney animator Glen Keane, it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

Hamill had the honour of presenting the award to Bryant on the night.

“It was his heartfelt love-letter to the game that made him a legend & a superstar. It was an honor to present him his much-deserved Oscar,” Hamill said.

Kobe Bryant and Glen Keane (Credit: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

He's among dozens of Hollywood stars to have paid tribute to Bryant, 41, whose helicopter crashed in fog 30 miles north west of central Los Angeles, killing all those on board, including Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

Jack Nicholson, a lifetime Lakers fan, gave a rare and emotional interview in order to pay his respects to Bryant.

“My reaction is the same as almost all of LA.,” Nicholson told CBS.

THE OSCARS(r) - The 90th Oscars(r) broadcasts live on Oscar(r) SUNDAY, MARCH 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, on the Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Television Network. (Eric McCandless via Getty Images) BB-8, OSCAR ISAAC, MARK HAMILL, KELLY MARIE TRAN, KOBE BRYANT, GLEN KEANE

“Where we think everything’s solid, there’s a big hole in the wall. I was used to seeing and talking to Kobe that… it kills you. It’s just a terrible event.

Read more: Players at the Australian open pay respects to Kobe Bryant

“I teased him the first time we met. It was at the Garden in New York and I offered him a basketball and asked him if he wanted me to autograph it for him. He looked at me like I was crazy.

Actor Jack Nicholson, top center, cheers long with his son Ray, right, after Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant, below, made a basket during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

“I remember the totality of how great a player he was… We’ll think of him all the time and we’ll miss him.”

Many others echoed Nicholson's sentiments.

President Barack Obama added: