Updated 02:29 PM EDT, Tue, Oct 19, 2021

Kobe Bryant Will Retire After This Season

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Los Angeles Lakers player, Kobe Bryant, will retire at the end of the current season after playing 20 years for the team, the NBA star announced on Sunday.

In a first-person account entitled "Dear Basketball," published on The Players' Tribune, Bryant noted that the current NBA season "is all I have left to give."

The 37-year-old player wrote a poem to express his feelings about basketball, a sport he learned to love at  the early age of 6.

"I fell in love with you. A love so deep I gave you my all -- From my mind & body To my spirit & soul. As a six-year-old boy, Deeply in love with you, I never saw the end of the tunnel. I only saw myself, Running out of one," Bryant wrote.

ESPN said that the Lakers star has already recognized that this will be the end of the road for him when it comes to his basketball career.

"But I can't love you obsessively for much longer. This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind but my body knows it's time to say goodbye. And that's OK. I'm ready to let you go," added Bryant.

According to BBC, the 37-year-old player has suffered injuries for the past seasons which affected his performance and contribution for the team.

It also noted that in his more than 1,200 games in the NBA, Bryant had an average of 25 points per game. When he was at the peak of his career, he was recognized by one of the league's best and even hailed as the NBA's Most Valuable Player in 2008.

In ending his poem, Bryant revealed what he plans to do next with his life.

"We both know, no matter what I do next, I'll always be that kid, with the rolled up socks, garbage can in the corner, :05 seconds on the clock, ball in my hands," he wrote.

Lakers coach, Byron Scott, said he did not anticipate Bryant's decision this early.

"It kind of shocked me when he told me. I'm sad more than anything. Somebody I care about, have a lot of respect for... it's always hard when greatness like Kobe decides to hang it up.

The coach added that Bryant has been able to go around various cities in the US with people recognizing all of his accomplishments.

Meanwhile, Lakers president, Jeanie Buss, expressed how sad the team is with Bryant's decision.

"We're all sad. This era of Lakers basketball has been one of the most fun, exciting, prosperous eras we could imagine. We're in full support of him. But it's still very sad," Buss added.

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