Former U of I, Dolphins, Colts player Vontae Davis found dead in his South Florida home

Washington, D.C., native signed with Buffalo Bills for 2018, but left team at halftime of season's second game

ByEric Levenson and Devon M. Sayers, CNN, CNNWire
Monday, April 1, 2024
Former U of I, Dolphins player Vontae Davis found dead in Florida home
Former University of Illinois, Dolphins and Colts player Vontae Davis was found dead in his South Florida home. He also played for the Bills briefly.

SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. -- Former Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis, who played at the University of Illinois, was found dead in his South Florida home on Monday, but police say no foul play is suspected.

Police in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Davie said they responded to a medical emergency at Davis' home Monday morning, but the 35-year-old was dead when officers arrived. No cause of death has been released pending autopsy results. Police said in a statement that the investigation is still active.

Davis played for 10 seasons in the NFL after being drafted 25th overall by the Dolphins in 2009 out of Illinois. He played three seasons for Miami before being traded to Indianapolis just before the 2012 season. He played six seasons with the Colts.

The HBO show "Hard Knocks" was following the Dolphins team at the time and captured the tense conversation between then-general manager Jeff Ireland and Davis about the trade, which offered insight into the personal stakes of the league.

"The rumor is true: We just traded you," Ireland said.

"I want to call my grandmother," the shocked corner responded.

The Washington, D.C., native signed with the Buffalo Bills for 2018 but left the team at halftime of the season's second game. He released a statement after the game saying that after multiple injuries and surgeries, "Reality hit me fast and hard: I shouldn't be out there anymore."

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Davis played in 122 games, intercepting 22 passes, returning one for a touchdown. He was selected for the Pro Bowl in 2014 and 2015 while a member of the Colts.

He said part of the choice to retire was physical, citing the issue of players dealing with brain injuries like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, CNN reported.

"All of that stuff goes into consideration," he said. "I no longer wanted to sacrifice my body where it didn't benefit me moving forward."

Davis, the brother of former NFL tight end Vernon Davis, also spoke to CNN about their difficult upbringing.

"I come from very humble beginnings," Davis said. "My mother was addicted to drugs, my father an alcoholic. I grew up in some very traumatic situations. I witnessed my father being shot multiple times by his brother. And when you come out of situations like that, you're just not considered a quitter.

"I don't think I quit. I think I feel that, as I walk away from a game that no longer serves me mentally, physically, and emotionally. That's what I would tell people who say I quit. Most people don't know who I am as a person or what I've been through to achieve the success I have."

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, ,the NFL said, "The NFL is heartbroken to hear about the passing of Vontae Davis. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones."

"We are heartbroken by the sudden passing of former Dolphins CB Vontae Davis and extend our deepest condolences to his family & loved ones during this difficult time," the Dolphins said.

The Colts said: "We are devastated to hear of Vontae Davis's passing. He was a standout player in his six seasons with the Horseshoe, but he was an even better teammate who carried a smile and positive energy every day. He will be deeply missed, and we send our prayers to his family and loved ones."

"Extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Vontae Davis," Jim Irsay, who owns the Colts, said in a post on X. "A great guy, teammate, player. My prayers to Vontae's family."

"We are saddened to learn of the passing of Vontae Davis," the Bills said in a statement. "We are thinking of his friends, family, and loved ones during this difficult time."

ABC7 Chicago and the Associated Press contributed to this report.