April 13 marks the four-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s final NBA appearance.
LA Lakers great Bryant signed out with the type of memorable, bombastic performance he was notorious for – 60 points in a win over Utah.
Bryant died earlier this year in a helicopter crash at the age of 41, but will be forever remembered by the sport.
Such was Bryant’s love for basketball, he wrote a letter to announce his retirement, ‘Dear Basketball’, which would win him an Oscar.
Here, the PA news agency looks back on that.
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 and body, to my spirit and 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 the 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.Tribute have been paid to Bryant following his death in a helicopter crash (Kathy Willens/AP)
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 savour 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, five seconds on the clock, ball in my hands.
Five… four… three… two… one…
Love you always,
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Dear Basketball – Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning retirement letter