Former Raven Wins Oscar for Best Short Animated Film

Matthew A. Cherry, left, and Karen Rupert Toliver, winners of the award for best animated short film for "Hair Love", pose in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020.

The Ravens' parade at awards banquets continued Sunday night, this time at the Oscars with a man named Matthew A. Cherry.

A week after Lamar Jackson won MVP, John Harbaugh was named the Coach of the Year and Greg Roman took home Assistant Coach of the Year, Cherry won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film with "Hair Love," the story of an African American father styling his daughter's hair for the first time.

Cherry was a wide receiver who spent a short time with the Ravens in 2006 but didn't make the regular-season roster. He originally came out of Akron as an undrafted free agent who first signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and bounced to two other teams before coming to Baltimore. He never saw any regular-season game action.

The Ravens' release marked the end of Cherry's football career, but was start of what is now a highly successful second gig. In 2016, Cherry sent out this tweet first putting out feelers for help on his idea.

In 2017, Cherry launched a Kickstarter to raise money for the film, which he also wrote. After it raised more than its goal, it was co-directed with Everett Downing and Bruce W. Smith and produced by Karen Rupert Toliver, who came on stage with Cherry to accept the Oscar. The film was picked up by Sony Pictures Animation in 2019.

"'Hair Love' was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize black hair," Cherry wrote.

Cherry pushed for the CROWN Act, a California law which prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture, to be passed as law in all 50 states. He also dedicated his award to Kobe Bryant, saying "may we all have a second act as great as his was." Cherry certainly has made the most of his.

Cherry isn't the only former Raven getting into the animation world. Former Ravens pass rusher Trevor Pryce opened an animation studio at the Maryland Institute College of Art and created an animated children's show, "Kulipari," about warrior frogs fighting arachnid invaders, which can be found on Netflix.

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