Kobe Bryant Announces Retirement From Basketball With Poem, Breaks the Internet

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Kobe Bryant is officially saying farewell to basketball.

The 37-year-old NBA pro wrote a poem about his passion for the sport, which was posted on The Players Tribune Sunday afternoon. The website almost immediately crashed.

In the emotional letter, Bryant announces that after his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, this will be his last.

He notes that basketball "gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream and I'll always love you for it."

"But I can't love you obsessively for much longer," he continues. "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."

Read the full poem below:


Dear Basketball,

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks

And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots

In the Great Western Forum

I knew one thing was real:


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.


And so I ran.

I ran up and down every court

After every loose ball for you.

You asked for my hustle

I gave you my heart

Because it came with so much more.


I played through the sweat and hurt

Not because challenge called me

But because YOU called me.

I did everything for YOU

Because that’s what you do

When someone makes you feel as

Alive as you’ve made me feel.


You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream

And I’ll always love you for it.

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.

I want you to know now

So we both can savor every moment we have left together.

The good and the bad.

We have given each other

All that we have.


And 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.

5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1


Love you always,
Kobe

Bryant, who has been struggling with injuries for the past five seasons, entered Sunday's game against the Indiana Pacers averaging 15.7 points per game on a career-worst 31.5 shooting percentage. ESPN reports that Bryant is in the final year of a two-year deal that will pay him $25 million in 2015-16, making him the NBA's highest-paid player this season.

Following Sunday's game, Bryant will hold a press conference to discuss his retirement plans, as reported by L.A.Daily News Lakers beat writer, Mark Medina. All 18,997 fans in attendance of the game will receive a copy of Bryant's "Dear Basketball" letter.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement over Twitter, calling Bryant "one of the greatest players in the history of our game."

According to the Good Morning America official Twitter, Bryant will also sit down with Robin Roberts to further discuss his decision to retire.

Upon hearing the news, many celebrities, Lakers fans and sports professionals took to social media to express their thoughts on Kobe's departure from the NBA.