(CBS Local)– Kobe Bryant is a 5x NBA champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, and an Academy Award Winner.

The former Los Angeles Lakers guard just published his third book under the Granity Studios umbrella called “Epoca The Tree Of Ecrof” about kids using sports to save the world. Author Ivy Claire got an email during the NBA playoffs a few years ago that Bryant wanted to talk with her about a book idea.

“I honestly thought it was a joke. I did not expect the call to come through,” said Claire in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “He started spinning this incredible story about sports fantasy, super hero fiction and I thought this is right up my alley. He said he was looking for a former professional athlete, which is me, who was a published novelist with a degree in classics. I said you found the one. Kobe always gave you the full story and sometimes he would call me in the middle of the night. He never left me hanging. If he created a problem, he would create a solution.”

“Epoca The Tree Of Ecrof” is available wherever books are sold and Claire was really impressed with how involved Bryant was from start to finish.

“He and I came up with this idea and we had to shape it and we had to create gods and all this mythology,” said Claire. “The outcome of this book was a middle grade sports fantasy adventure. It is pretty specific, but also universal. It is about kids in a school. I think the best fantasy is grounded in some sort of reality and then jump off from there. This is about kids playing sports.”

“People never think of athletes as creative. I was playing squash professionally and writing on the side,” said Claire. “Kobe was one of the first people I met who was a professional athlete and understood that they go hand in hand. You can’t just do one thing well, you have to have a wide range of tools at your disposal. He and I really bonded over that. It was awesome for such an elite athlete in Kobe to see what I was thinking about.”


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