When you're imagining the people in this world that inspire a man of Kobe Bryant's stature, composer John Williams isn't the first name that would come to mind. However, the former L.A. Lakers man is a huge fan of the 84-year-old.
Now retired after 20 years in the NBA, Bryant is working on an animated film with Williams and had a chance to make his true feelings known when he attended the American Film Institute awards earlier in the summer.
The ceremony will be aired later this week but a video was released on YouTube showing Kobe's speech praising the man responsible for one of the most famous songs of all time, as he received a Lifetime Achievement award.
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The five-time NBA champion said he chose the legendary Imperial March from Star Wars as the song for his return in 2013, saying it encapsulated his comeback as a 'villain ready for an epic battle'.
However, his admiration runs deeper than just the intense music that accompanied the appearance of Darth Vader.
Bryant said his level of perfection drove him to be better on the basketball court and a chance meeting in 2009 gave the now-37-year-old an opportunity to pick his brain and try and understand his brilliance.
Here is a full transcript of his speech:
"December, 2013. I was coming back to the Lakers from an injury. And the music I chose to bring me back onto the court at Staples Center was the Imperial March from Star Wars.
"Why? Because I needed John Williams to inspire me that day. The Black Mamba was back. And the Imperial March put me into character. And that’s a villain ready for an epic battle.
"I’m a passionate believer that everybody needs a muse, and John Williams is one of mine. In 2009, I asked him to meet with me. I needed to understand how he created timeless music — that was timeless because of his complex compositions told simple stories that captured the magic within all of us. John’s music achieved a level of perfection that I wanted to replicate on the basketball court. If I could understand how John did it, maybe, just maybe I could do it too.
"John was a catalyst for me to search, learn, and be inspired. And so, it’s much more than the movies. Consider the Olympic fanfare that John wrote for the Olympics in 1984 that continues to echo around the world to this day. Every time I hear it, it reminds me of being on one of those America teams that brought home two Olympic gold medals: Beijing and London.
"I want to thank you John, for everything you have done for me, and everything you have done for all of us. Congratulations on being the AFI MVP. You’re the greatest.