It's Official: Kobe Bryant Announces Retirement With Heartfelt Poem

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It's finally confirmed, Kobe Bryant has announced that he will retire at the end of this NBA season.

The five-time NBA champion has struggled to play up to his usual standards so far this year, leading fans to speculate even more about the possibility that this season would be his last.

Now, the speculation can end.

Dear Basketball: #KB20 — Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) November 29, 2015

In an article for The Players Tribune titled "Dear Basketball", The Los Angeles Lakers star said,

I'm ready to let you go. I want you to know now, so we can both savor every moment we have left together.

This season is Bryant's 20th with both the NBA and the Lakers. It also marks the final year of his two-year deal that will pay him $25 million in 2015-16 season. The payout officially makes him the NBA's highest-paid player this season.

Check out his entire statement, written as a 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