Khari Willis, a starting safety with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, has announced his retirement at the age of 26 to focus on a faith-based career.
“I’d first like to thank the Indianapolis Colts organization for granting me the opportunity to compete in the National Football League the past three years,” Willis wrote Wednesday while announcing his decision on Instagram.
“I’ve built lifelong relationships with numerous teammates, coaches and support staff that have impacted me greatly. The lessons that I’ve learned in this phase of my life will be valuable for me in my next chapter.
“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.”
Willis is looking forward to what his future holds.
“I thank all of my family, friends and those who have supported me on this journey thus far and I look forward to your continued support through the next phase of my life. 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 ... God Bless.”
The Colts wished Willis nothing but the best as he moves on to a new chapter of his life.
“We’re thankful and appreciative of Khari’s contributions to the Colts both on and off the field over the last three seasons. Khari’s character, leadership, and professionalism will be missed in our locker room as will his play on Sundays,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said in a statement shared on the team’s Twitter page.
“I admire and respect his decision to transition into the next stage of his life and ministry and my prayers will always be with him.”
The Colts selected Willis in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft after he played at Michigan State University. He started 33 of the 39 games he played and tallied 219 tackles, four interceptions and 3 1/2 sacks during his career.
The franchise is no stranger to key players retiring young. In 2019, star quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement after seven years due to injuries.