EXCLUSIVE: Kobe Bryant Opens Up About Decision to Retire

Kobe Bryant's 20th season in the NBA will be his last.

December 1, 2015, 6:15 PM

— -- NBA superstar Kobe Bryant has been an integral part of basketball and American culture for two decades, and in an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, the elite player explained how he decided it was time to retire from the game.

“I try to have at least 15 minutes of still time and just kind of sit in my thoughts in the morning and just kind of meditate. And normally what happens with me is my mind would always drift to the game. Always," he said in reply to Roberts’ question during the Tuesday interview. "And then I found myself sitting there. My mind wouldn't drift towards the game all the time anymore. And that's when I started realizing, ‘You know what? It's getting close. It's getting close.’ Because now I'm not obsessively thinking about the game anymore. It's not wired into my subconscious the way it used to be.”

Bryant, 37, announced his retirement Sunday night in a poem posted on The Player's Tribune, a website launched last year by former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter.

The poem, posted hours before Bryant took the court against the Indiana Pacers, read, "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."

The Philadelphia native dominated the sport for two decades, entering the NBA directly from high school and playing for the Lakers for his entire 20-year career.

During those 20 years with the Lakers, Bryant won five NBA titles, was a 17-time All Star and earned two Olympic gold medals.

Bryant married his wife, Vanessa, in 2001 and the couple shares two daughters, Natalia and Giana. Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram on Monday to express her support for her husband.

"You can walk away knowing you've always played with everything you have, babe. I'm so proud of you. I'm proud of everything you've given to all of your fans even when you weren't feeling your best. You've always pushed through it because you played for those fans that sacrificed so much to see you play in person. You mean so much to us all. I'm so excited to see what God has in store for us as a family now that one chapter is closing and new ones are opening. We love you! ??@KobeBryant #20," Vanessa Bryant wrote in the Instagram post.

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