Former NFL Wide Receiver Defies The Odds, Wins Academy Award

  • Cherry was an undrafted free agent after the 2004 NFL Draft.
  • This award was dedicated to the late Kobe Bryant by Cherry in his speech.
  • Cherry has also written for the ABC shows Black-ish and Mixed-ish.

LOS ANGELES – The 92nd annual Academy Awards highlighted the greatest achievements in the film industry over the past year. Among the winners from Sunday's Oscars was a former NFL wide receiver who became the second athlete to ever be awarded an Oscar for writing and directing the animated short film “Hair Love”.

This category was one of the few categories that did not have Acadamy Awards odds before the event. While many were betting on things such as "Best Actor" or "Best Director", Cherry's film flew under the radar much like his career in the NFL.

Matthew A. Cherry declared for the 2004 NFL Draft after playing the wide receiver position at the University of Akron for four years. He went undrafted and played on the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and Baltimore Ravens. Before his retirement from football, Cherry also played in the Canadian Football League for a brief stint before retiring from the sport in 2007 to work in Hollywood.

The first athlete to win an Oscar  in this same category was the late Kobe Bryant, who won an Academy Award in 2018 for his animated short film “Dear Basketball”. Cherry dedicated the award to Bryant during his acceptance speech along with his producer Karen Rupert Toliver.

Hair Love is a seven-minute animated short film that shows the plight of an African American father having to style his daughter's hair for the first time. The film beat out other short animated films like Kitbull by Rosa Sullivan and Kathy Hendrickson, as well as Memorable by Bruno Collet and Jean Francois Le Corre.

This was the first Oscar of Cherry’s film career and the film was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $300,000. The short film would later go on to be acquired by Sony Pictures and was released in Spring 2019. The entire film can be watched on YouTube among other video streaming platforms.

While people who bet on the Acadamy Awards didn't have a chance to put action on Cherry this year, they may want to look out for his name in the future.

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