WNBA Star Candace Parker Announces She’s Retiring: ‘It’s Time’

"My HEART & body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it," Parker — who dealt with a foot injury during her first season with the Las Vegas Aces — wrote of the difficult decision

Michael Reaves/Getty Candace Parker
Michael Reaves/Getty Candace Parker

WNBA star Candace Parker is officially entering retirement.

On April 28, the Las Vegas Aces forward announced in a lengthy Instagram post that she would be stepping away from the court after 16 seasons with the league.

"I promised I’d never cheat the game & that I’d leave it in a better place than I came into it. The competitor in me always wants 1 more, but it’s time," she wrote in part, alongside a photo of herself as a young child, holding a basketball in her hands. "My HEART & body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it."

Parker, 38, dealt with a foot injury during the 2023 season, and according to CBS Sports, after she underwent surgery for her fractured foot, she was sidelined in July for the remainder of the Aces' championship-winning season.

"This offseason hasn’t been fun on a foot that isn’t cooperating. It’s no fun playing in pain (10 surgeries in my career), it’s no fun knowing what you could do, if only…it’s no fun hearing 'she isn’t the same' when I know why, it’s no fun accepting the fact you need surgery AGAIN," she added in the caption.

Parker is one of the most decorated athletes in WNBA history, beginning her professional career in 2008 when she was selected as the No. 1 draft pick to the Los Angeles Sparks — just after she won NCAA titles in 2007 and 2008 playing for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols.

After a championship win with the Sparks in 2016, she went to the Chicago Sky — her hometown team — for the 2021 season, winning the championship that year. She then went to the Aces two years later and took home yet another championship, the team's second in a row.

Related: Las Vegas Aces Party After Winning Back-to-Back WNBA Championships

The star forward also scooped up two Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012, and has been named Rookie of the Year, MVP and All-Star multiple times each. Her final WNBA game took place on July 7, after signing with the Aces early in 2023, according to ESPN.

Speaking with PEOPLE in February 2023, the mom of two opened up about wanting to sign with the Aces to be closer to family on the West Coast.

"I just really think at this point in my career, to be able to compete for a championship and to do it in front of my family, is the most important," she said at the time.

The athlete shares 2-year-old son Airr with her wife, Anna Petrakova, and is mom to 14-year-old daughter Lailaa from a previous relationship. The couple is also expecting baby No. 3, due to arrive this spring.

Related: Candace Parker Says It's 'Amazing' to Be a Mother to a Baby Over a Decade After Welcoming First Child

"I fell in love with a little orange ball at 13 years old and BECAUSE of it my world goes ‘round. The highs are unmatched & the lows taught me lessons. On & off the court I’m proud I’ve always been true & stayed true to ME, even when it wasn’t popular," Parker continued in her Instagram post. "I’m grateful that for 16 years I PLAYED A GAME for a living & DESPITE all the injuries, I hooped. I’m grateful for family, friends, teammates, coaches, doctors, trainers & fans who made this journey so special."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer​​, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 

Finally, the superstar athlete offered young players a bit of advice as they attempt to go pro: "ENJOY IT."

"No matter how you prepare for it, you won’t be ready for the gap it leaves in your soul," Parker finished the post. "Forgive me as I mourn a bit, but I’ll be back loving the game differently in a while."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.