Former NFL wide receiver Matthew Cherry won an Academy Award on Sunday night, taking home the statue for best animated short film, “Hair Love.”
Cherry wrote the story, which is about an African-American father attempting to do his daughter’s hair for the first time. Cherry also helped to direct and produce the nearly seven-minute film, which was financed through a Kickstarter campaign.
“‘Hair Love’ was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation, and because we wanted to normalize black hair,” Cherry said in accepting the award at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
In his speech, Cherry recognized late Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who won the same award two years ago for his film “Dear Basketball.”
“This award is dedicated to Kobe Bryant. May we all have a second act as great as his was,” Cherry said.
Cherry never appeared in an NFL game, but his website says he was on the rosters of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens before retiring in 2007 to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
Now 38, he played collegiately at Akron (2000-03) and was a second-team All-Mid-American Conference selection for wide receiver in 2003, when he made 66 receptions.
—Field Level Media