Los Angeles Lakers fan or not.
Kobe Bryant fan or not.
Basketball fans as a whole—and even those of us who enjoy sports from a distance—bowed our heads respectfully and saluted Kobe Bryant on Sunday, when he released a beautiful poem on the Players’ Tribune announcing that he would be retiring from the game after this 2015-2016 season.
In the poem, Bryant described his introduction to the game and the love he’s had for it ever since:
From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:
I fell in love with you.
He then spoke about what is causing him to retire. It’s the thing that causes most athletes to retire—their aging bodies:
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.
Bryant signed the poem with “Love you always,” and fans and celebrities on Twitter poured love right back into him with their congratulatory tweets. Here’s a roundup of how celebrities and some of his peers in basketball have been extolling Bryant’s legendary career and bidding him farewell during his last season.
Job well done, Black Mamba.
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.