He was elected as one of the most popular prime ministers Australia had ever seen – but despite his achievements, his time at the top was marred by controversy and dramatic leadership squabbles.
In October 1998, Kevin Michael Rudd entered the federal parliament as the new member for the inner-city Brisbane seat of Griffith.
An ambitious fresh face in federal Labor, the boy from Nambour on the Sunshine Coast would spend the next eight years climbing the ranks with his eyes on leading his party and eventually winning the election.
He swooped in to replace Kim Beazley as opposition leader in 2006 and, with Julia Gillard as his deputy, toppled the John Howard-led coalition government in 2007.
What followed were six years of one of the most tumultuous reigns in Australia's political history, with the personality-plus Rudd making headlines for controversy as often as he did for accomplishment.
His 2008 apology to indigenous Australians and keeping the country out of recession during the global financial crisis were some of the most significant achievements of his tenure.
However, his time in office was also blemished by chaos and dysfunction, videos of expletive-laden outbursts and him eating his own ear wax in parliament, and the controversial coup that toppled him in 2010 followed by dramatic attempts to take back the leadership.
After more than 15 years after arriving in the House of Representatives, Mr Rudd last night tearfully announced that finally "it really is time for me to zip", though he leaves behind a vault of memorable moments in public life.