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92nd Annual Academy Awards - Press Room

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Matthew A. Cherry, a former University of Akron (and NFL) wide receiver, won an Academy Award on Sunday evening for directing “Hair Love,” which won best animated short film.

Cherry finished his University of Akron football career as the all-time leading receiver in school history and spent about three seasons in the NFL on the practice squads and rosters of several teams before walking away in 2007. He later moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of working in Hollywood.

Cherry called his shot on Twitter eight years ago when he said he would be nominated for an Oscar one day.

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Cherry’s manifestation came true as he and Karen Rupert Toliver’s accepted their Oscar. In his brief time at the microphone, Cherry dedicated his win to the battle against hair discrimination, including that of Houston-area teen DeAndre Arnold who was Cherry’s guest along with Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade on the red carpet Sunday as well as to the late Kobe Bryant.

“We wanted to normalize black hair,” Cherry said. “This award is dedicated to Kobe Bryant, may we all have a second act as great as his was,” Cherry said.

You can watch the Hair Love animated short and fall in love with it all over again below.

Former University of Akron Wide Receiver Matthew A. Cherry Won An Oscar!  was originally published on