It is the lifestyle of which sports-mad youngsters dream.

Being paid a decent wage to play the sport you love, travel and enjoy plenty of leisure time in a buzzing city by the sea.

For former Brighton Bears skipper Randy Duck, however, the trappings of being a well-known figure in a fun city have taken their toll.

Which is why the 29-year-old point guard is turning his back on professional sport and returning to life off the court on the west coast of America.

Duck was not exactly a national celebrity during his three years with Bears. You can thank the low-key nature of basketball in Britain for that.

He was, however, one of the finest players to ever step on a court in this country, was idolised by scores of young fans locally and admired by older supporters and team-mates for his skills, competitive spirit and professional approach at games and training sessions.

All of which will make his honest words to The Argus, in which he admits he lost touch with family and friends and became distracted by the good life away from the court, all the more striking.

Those who had more frequent dealings with him, however, might not find the tone of his comments quite such a surprise, given his habit of being highly self-critical, especially after setbacks.

Duck is now finishing his degree back at the University of California in Berkeley, near San Francisco, and is looking for work in television or radio.

He plans to coach basketball and is working out with the California squad, which includes his back court successor, Richard Midgley from Burgess Hill.

Duck admitted he had been considering retirement for a few years and added: "I think the main thing was security and stability in my life.

"I was not living right at all and I think the environment of being a professional basketball player had something to do with that.

"I was conducting myself in a very unprofessional manner and getting away with it and almost getting praised for it. That is fundamentally wrong to me so I had to change.

"I have been injured for the last two years and for the life of me couldn't figure out why until I really had some time to reflect on how I was conducting myself in my personal life.

"I always grew up learning and believing that sportsmen had to conduct themselves in ways that other people were not willing to do. I failed with that and it started to affect more than just basketball."

Duck added that he was delighted to be back in the environment where he thrived before becoming a professional sportsman.

He said: "I am not participating in a lot of things that presented me with bad decision-making scenarios. Being sober, not chasing women, being honest with everyone, trusting people are all things that I have had to work really hard on but I am starting to see the benefits of these changes.

"I think for a while I forgot who I was and where I came from. I used to wake up at 5am to go to school early to shoot free throws, dribble during lunch, and after an hour or two of team practice I would go to the recreation centre to play until I had to come home.

"I lived basketball and nothing else. That is exactly how I got the opportunities to go further in the game."

Duck admitted he was thankful for the great memories he had from his career, which included spells on the continent, in the USBL and playing British League and European Cup basketball with Bears and London Towers.

He admitted: "I think my decision to get out now was to be able to conserve those memories. I will never not have basketball on my mind and in my life. I wish all the fans and players of the Bears a good season."

Bears owner and head coach Nick Nurse now faces the task of signing a replacement for his on-court leader and off-court friend and assistant.

Nurse will use one of his two available places for non-EU players to replace Duck and is hoping to sign a point guard with British League experience.

He paid tribute to Duck's contribution to Bears, praised him for making the tough decision to retire and added: "We're going to miss a heck of a player and a leader. I think I can find a player with his talent but being able to find someone who is as committed to the cause will be a challenge."