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Arsenio Hall is known to be a long time Lakers fan, which is why news of Kobe Bryant’s retirement came as an absolute shock to the former talk show host.

But for Hall, learning about Kobe’s career change didn’t come straight from the athlete’s camp or his good friend Magic Johnson … it came from comedian, George Lopez. “During that day, George Lopez texted me and he said have you seen this and it was a picture of Kobe with the poem on it,” he told HipHollywood exclusively at Ebony Magazine’s annual Power 100 Gala.

“And it hurt a little bit,” he said. “I know everybody has to go, but he’s special and I’m from Cleveland. I’m not born in LA. But as a fan of classic Black careers, the [Black] Mamba stands high above them all.”

The gala’s host went on to explain that he is “a big fan and I’m going to miss his game.”

On Sunday evening, Kobe announced his retirement in a sweet written letter to his basketball. The athlete, who recently overcame a sere injury, revealed that this season would be his last.

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,


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