9 photos that celebrate Kobe Bryant's legacy as one of history's greatest basketball players

Without a doubt, Kobe Bryant will go down as one of the top athletes to ever play the game of basketball. After 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s won five NBA championships, an MVP trophy, and has been selected as an All-Star 17 times. He’s currently the third-highest scoring player in history.

Bryant announced his retirement in a piece on The Players’ Tribune Sunday night.

“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,” Bryant wrote in his farewell letter to basketball. “I’m ready to let you go.”

According to ticket price tracker TiqIQ, ticket prices for the final game of the Lakers’ regular season have already nearly tripled to $1,388.60 since the retirement news broke.

Scroll below to see a selection of photos highlighting Bryant’s career.

When he entered the league in 1996, 18-year-old Bryant was the youngest man to ever play in an NBA game. He also became the youngest winner of the Slam Dunk Contest that same season.

Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Bryant battled it out with Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers in the following year's NBA Finals, but the Lakers once again emerged victorious to win their second consecutive title in 2001.

Jed Jacobsohn/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

The Lakers completed their three-peat by winning the NBA Finals again in 2002.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

From 2000 to 2002, the Lakers were unstoppable. Bryant played a big part in that.

Donald Miralle/GettyImages

Bryant continued to shine, but the Lakers weren't able to continue their championship winning streak for a while.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

During this time, however, Bryant broke more and more records. In 2005, he scored 62 points in three quarters against the Dallas Mavericks. As a result, entering the fourth quarter, Bryant had outscored the entire Mavericks team 62 -- 61. This is the only time a player has ever achieved this feat.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

In a 2006 game against the Toronto Raptors, Bryant scored a career-high 81 points, second in history only to Wilt Chamberlin's famous 100-point game in 1962.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Many have speculated that Bryant would retire soon, especially given the series of injuries he has been facing.

Harry How/Getty Images

The rumours were finally put to rest on November 30, when Bryant announced that the 2015-2016 season would be his last.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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