Darren Waller Retires Following Tumultuous Offseason and Divorce from Kelsey Plum

Former NFL star embarks on a transformative personal journey.

by Faizan Chaudhary
Darren Waller Retires Following Tumultuous Offseason and Divorce from Kelsey Plum
© Megan Briggs/Getty Images

New York Giants tight end Darren Waller has announced his retirement from professional football, citing a serious health scare last November as a pivotal moment in reassessing his priorities and life direction. At 31, Waller shared his decision through a heartfelt YouTube video titled "Straight from Darren Waller: A Beautiful Journey," where he detailed the traumatic experience that led to his hospitalization and subsequent reflection on his life and career.

The decision follows a concerning incident where Waller felt extremely ill shortly after sustaining an injury during a game against the Jets on October 29. He recounted the harrowing experience of losing consciousness and struggling to breathe, which he disturbingly compared to a life-threatening drug overdose he survived in 2017.

While specifics of his diagnosis remain private, Waller expressed a profound realization during his three-day hospital stay about the fragility of life and his own personal fulfilment.

Reclaiming Authenticity

Waller's retirement is not just about ending his football career; it's a deliberate step towards reclaiming his autonomy and pursuing a life that feels more genuine and aligned with his true self.

"I've lived a lot of life in 31 years...but now, it's about becoming who I really am," Waller reflected. His journey through addiction, recovery, and professional highs as a 2020 Pro-Bowl selectee has been marked by both adversity and remarkable achievements.

Despite his physical capability to continue playing, Waller emphasized that his decision was driven by a desire to invest in his life beyond the gridiron. He acknowledged the sacrifices required by a professional sports career, which often sidelined his other passions and personal growth.

The announcement also comes amidst personal changes, including his recent divorce from WNBA champion Kelsey Plum. The couple, who had been married for just a year, parted ways as Waller contemplated a new chapter in his life.

Darren Waller, Kelsey Plum© Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Waller plans to explore his interests in music and podcasting, activities he's been engaged in alongside his football career. Since 2021, he has been releasing rap music and hosting a podcast called "Comeback Stories," focusing on themes of recovery and personal growth.

Looking ahead, Waller is excited about traveling and engaging in creative pursuits that he had to sideline during his demanding sports career. A prominent advocate for mental health and addiction recovery, Waller's transparency about his struggles has been a cornerstone of his public persona.

His recovery journey, punctuated by a year-long suspension in 2017 for substance abuse, underscores his resilience and commitment to transformation—both on and off the field.

Darren Waller