Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant broke barriers when he won an Oscar for Dear Basketball. Former NFL wide receiver Matthew Cherry has managed to follow in the same footsteps as former professional athletes turned filmmakers.

Cherry has now won the Oscar for best animated short for Hair Love. He recently discussed the inspiration for the film during an appearance on NBC News:

“I wanted to give kids a character that normalizes and celebrates black hair,” Cherry said. “Black fathers get a bad rap in mainstream media, so I also wanted to show them as present and caring, versus the deadbeat dad stereotype that is often ascribed to them in film.”

Cherry won the award in the same category that Bryant did two years ago. It seems they have now become pioneers for future athletes that are hoping to get into filmmaking after retirement.

Cherry spent his college career at Akron before making the transition to the NFL in 2004. The former undrafted free agent played primarily with the Cincinnati Bengals before enjoying stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers and Baltimore Ravens before officially hanging up his cleats in 2007.

Cherry wrote, directed, and produced Hair Love and it was eventually picked up by Sony Pictures. It is safe to say that he has managed to make quite the transition into the media circle once his playing days were over.

Although he may have struggled to make his presence felt in the NFL, Cherry has already accomplished the pinnacle of his new profession in film.

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