After only three seasons in the NFL, one of the Indianapolis Colts’ top defensive players announced his retirement on Wednesday, claiming he wanted to devote his life to Christian evangelism.
Khari Willis, 26, made the unexpected revelation on Instagram, thanking his coaches, teammates, and fans while underlining that he was doing what God wanted him to do.
Willis was the Colts’ starting strong safety and finished fifth on the team in tackles last season. He was drafted in the fourth round out of Michigan State in 2019. In retiring, he walked away from the $2.54 million he would have earned during the 2022 season, USA Today reports. He had earned about $3 million during his first three seasons.

“With much prayer and deliberation, I have elected to officially retire from the NFL as I endeavor to devote the remainder of my life to the further advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he wrote. “I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me along the way, including family, friends, and strangers, and I look forward to your continued support in the coming years. I am both humbled and excited to pursue the holy call that God has for my life, which brings me much joy and purpose. Thank you all for your support over the years.”

Willis started 11 games last season while battling injuries but nevertheless finished high in defensive stats. He was fifth on the team in solo tackles and fifth in total tackles. He had two interceptions.

“First and foremost, I’d want to thank the Indianapolis Colts organization for allowing me to compete in the National Football League for the past three years,” Willis stated. “I’ve formed lasting bonds with multiple teammates, coaches, and support staff members that have had a significant impact on me. The lessons I’ve acquired in this chapter of my life will be useful to me in the next.” Frank Reich, the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, commended Willis for his contributions to the team.

“Khari’s integrity, leadership, and professionalism, as well as outstanding Sunday play, will be missed in our locker room,” Reich stated. “I admire and respect his decision to move on in his life and ministry, and my prayers will always be with him.”

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 13: Khari Willis #37 of the Indianapolis Colts looks on after a 20-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on September 13, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)