The Blue Demon and the Laker: Alumna Helps Kobe Bryant Inspire Youth

Molly Carter and Kobe Bryant
Photo by Aaron Poole/AMPAS

It’s the 2018 Academy Awards. Cast members from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” are presenting the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Mark Hamill announces Kobe Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” as the winner. Bryant takes the stage with only seconds to speak. While he’s giving his speech, Bryant says, “Thank you, Molly Carter. Without you we wouldn’t be here.”

Before she was thanked by the former Los Angeles Laker, before she was taking selfies with her husband on the red carpet and before she built her impressive career, Molly Carter’s (CMN ’96) story began at DePaul.

“Walking into freshman year at DePaul, I would have never thought that I’d be walking down the carpet at the Oscars,” says Carter, chief marketing officer at Kobe Inc., Bryant’s company. “That’s the exciting part about life—you never know where it’s going to take you.”

Carter says she always wanted to be a Blue Demon. Her father, Austin Flynn, was the dean of the College of Education in the 1970s. After he passed away when she was very young, DePaul provided Carter and her brother, Tim Ring (CMN ’91), with scholarships to attend the university.

It was at DePaul where Carter decided to go into sports public relations. “I was working in [the Athletics Department], and sports were a big part of my upbringing. My dad was friends with Ray Meyer and [my brother and I] grew up going to games. It was part of the ethos of my family,” Carter explains. “I just really enjoyed working in sports and being around athletes.”

Carter has worked with the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago White Sox, the Atlanta Hawks, Nike, Converse and Gatorade, among others. She started working at Kobe Inc. in 2015.

“What I like about working for Kobe [Inc.] is we don’t do anything that’s been done before. I think that’s consistent with the projects I’ve chosen to fight for throughout my career,” Carter says.

One of the biggest projects Carter and Kobe Inc. have undertaken is creating Granity Studios. (“Granity,” Carter explains, “is a word that Kobe created, meaning greater than infinity.”) The studio is a multimedia content creation company focused on teaching young athletes how to be better versions of themselves. One of the ways Granity achieves this is through storytelling, which is partly how “Dear Basketball” originated.

Narrated by Bryant, the animated short tells his story from when he was a kid with big dreams to his retirement from the NBA. Glen Keane (“The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast”) provided animation for the film, and John Williams (“Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park”) composed the score.

“‘Dear Basketball’ is so good because it touches on human truths about triumphs, dreams and seeing those dreams come to life. That’s really our goal—to tell stories that might be about sports, but are rooted in human emotion. They’ll resonate with anyone who is watching, sports fan or not,” Carter says.

Carter is thrilled to see her work with Kobe Inc., Granity and Bryant inspire kids all over the world. “Our target for everything that we’re doing here is to reach 9- to 12-year-old kids as they’re starting to figure out who they are as people,” Carter says. “If we can make an impact on those kids and on the future, we’ve done our job.”

Originally published in Conversations (Fall 2018 issue). ​​​​​​