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Mourning retires at age 38

SEVEN-TIME National Basketball Association All-Star Alonzo Mourning announced his retirement on Thursday, ending speculation he may return to the Miami Heat.

The 38-year-old center, part of the Heat's 2006 championship-winning team, had not played since injuring his knee in December 2007 and maintained close links with Miami despite being a free agent.

"I spent the past year rehabbing and thinking about my basketball future," Mourning told a news conference. "After 16 years I truly feel its best I retire.

"At 38 I feel like I've physically done all I can for this game. God knows it's been an amazing ride."

Mourning, widely respected for his extensive charity and community work, was forced out of the game in 2003 when he had to undergo a kidney transplant.

However, he surprised and encouraged many when he made a comeback.

Mourning was diagnosed with a serious kidney disease in 2000 and as his condition worsened he missed the 2002-03 season.

With Miami not renewing his contract he became a free agent and signed for the New Jersey Nets before his illness forced his premature retirement in November 2003.

He received a replacement kidney from his cousin and after the transplant attempted to come back with the Nets but found his chances limited.

Mourning then headed back to Miami and helped the team to the 2006 title. His experiences inspired him to devote time and energy to organ donation campaigns and also to organizations assisting under-privileged children.

Mourning was also a member of the gold medal-winning United States Olympic team in 2000 and is tipped to be a future Hall of Fame member.


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