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3-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald retires at age 32

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LOS ANGELES (KDKA) — Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald announced his retirement on Friday. 

On the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Donald made his announcement to step away from the game. 

"Throughout my career, I have given my everything to football both mentally and physically - 365 days a year was dedicated to becoming the best football player I could be," he said in his announcement. 

The 32-year-old Donald spent his entire 10-year professional career with the Rams, starting in St. Louis and then going to Los Angeles with the franchise when it moved. 

He leaves the game with an unassailable resume. He was a 10-time Pro Bowler, eight-time first-team All-Pro, three-time Defensive Player of the Year and 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year. He also won the Super Bowl with the Rams in 2021.

He finished his career with 111 sacks, 543 tackles, 176 tackles for loss and 260 quarterback hits in 154 games. He started 150 of those games. 

Donald, who owns the Rams' career sacks record, was greatness personified on the field. 

"There will never be another Aaron Donald," Rams general manager Les Snead said, according to the team's website.

Before getting drafted, Donald was a standout at Penn Hills High School in the Pittsburgh area and the University of Pittsburgh. 

In four years with the Pitt Panthers, Donald recorded 115 solo tackles, 181 total tackles and 29.5 sacks across 51 games. That led him to be drafted 13th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Rams. 

"As I turn my focus to a new chapter, I don't know what the future holds but I am excited about the off-the-field possibilities," Donald wrote on Friday. "I'm looking forward to spending more time with my wife Erica, and my kids, Jaeda, AJ, Aaric, and Aali. The greatest reward was being able to play this game with them by my side and I can't wait to watch them live out their dreams just as they watched me live out mine." 

According to ESPN, Donald and Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders are the only players in the history of the NFL to play at least 10 seasons and get selected to the Pro Bowl in each.

"He's an elite competitor, someone who leads by example in a way that's authentic to him, and an exceptional teammate who inspires everyone around him to be the best version of themselves," Rams coach Sean McVay said, according to the team's website.

The sports world praised Donald after his announcement on Friday. LeBron James, former Ram Jalen Ramsey and Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray were among the many who reacted to the news.

"THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME @AaronDonald97," Ramsey posted to social media. "DAMN IT WAS AN HONOR FR Happy Retirement."

"Honored to have competed against the best of All-Time! @AaronDonald97," Murray posted on social media. "Enjoy ya retirement and plz don't come back."

In a post on X, Pitt football congratulated Donald on a remarkable career. 

"Hail to YOU, @AaronDonald97," the post said. "From Penn Hills to Pitt to @RamsNFL. To the Super Bowl and Canton, soon. From undersized DT to larger than life.  An inspirational hero on and off the field. Congrats on retirement, AD! "

Donald is officially eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2029. He will most likely be a first-ballot selection. 

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