Collison retires from NBA at 31 to focus on faith

Veteran guard Darren Collison has decided to retire from the NBA after 10 seasons primarily to concentrate on helping the less fortunate through his Jehovah's Witnesses faith, he told ESPN's The Undefeated in a letter.

"While I still love basketball, I know there is something more important, which is my family and my faith," Collison wrote Friday. "I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses and my faith means everything to me. I receive so much joy from volunteering to help others and participate in a worldwide ministry. The joy I feel is unmatched. With that being said, I have decided to retire from the NBA."

The 31-year-old, who has made $43 million during his NBA career, was on target to secure a $10-12 million annual salary in free agency this summer, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. But after long deliberation with agent Bill Duffy, Collison ultimately decided to retire.

Collison averaged 12.5 points and 5.0 assists in 708 games through 10 seasons. The 2010 All-NBA rookie selection played for the New Orleans Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers. He is one of 26 players in NBA history to average at least 10 points and 3.5 assists per game in each of his first 10 seasons.

He thanked several former teammates and NBA stars who inspired him during his career.

"I'm also appreciative of that great friendships that I have earned from my teammates, coaches, and front office personnel that I will treasure for a lifetime," Collison wrote. "Players such as Victor Oladipo, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James that had a major impact on me competing at the highest level. I either have a close relationship with those that I have mentioned or they inspired me to work harder."

Oladipo was among Collison's former teammates to wish him well on social media Friday night.

Collison said in the letter that while he had done his best to help the less fortunate, he will now have the ability to do more in retirement. He plans on spending more time in ministry in his Jehovah's Witnesses faith, which he says has made him a better person.

"Basketball has been my life since I was a child," Collison wrote. "I could never imagine finding anything that brings me more joy than I get from playing the game."

Collison strongly thanked Duffy for his years of service. His biggest expression of gratitude, however, was directed at his wife, Keyosha.

"She has guided our family through everything you could imagine during the many NBA seasons," Collison said. "From the amount of moves that we've made, the day-to-day challenges we faced and all the while dealt with the emotions of an up and down season. She is our strength."