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Newly Baptized NFL Legend Jim Kelly: ‘Becoming a Christian Is the Best Decision I’ve Made’

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Screenshot from Instagram / @jillmkelly

Jim Kelly, a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback who has experienced life’s highs and lows, was baptized during the summer and proclaimed, “God changed my life.” Kelly, 63, has been outspoken about his Christian faith and how it sustained him through the death of his son and his own cancer diagnoses.

During 11 seasons with Buffalo, Kelly led the Bills to four straight Super Bowls. (The Bills lost all four of those championship games.) Hunter, the infant son of Kelly and his wife, Jill, was diagnosed with Krabbe disease, a rare genetic condition, in 1997 and died eight years later. Kelly dedicated his Pro Football Hall of Fame acceptance speech to Hunter in 2002.

In 2013, Kelly was treated for squamous cell carcinoma in his upper jaw. The cancer returned in 2018, requiring more surgery.

Jim Kelly Gets Baptized, Says ‘God Changed My Life’

This week, Jill Kelly posted a video and photos of her husband getting baptized in a swimming pool. “The very best of Summer 2023,” she wrote. “Jim’s t-shirt says, ‘God’s Real.’ He is! I have witnessed God at work in this man’s life for over 30 years…and I can tell you that God isn’t just REAL, He is faithful, trustworthy, kind, loving, compassionate, powerful, gracious, GOOD, merciful, forgiving…and so so much MORE.”


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A post shared by Jill Kelly (@jillmkelly)

“[God] is immeasurably MORE than we can imagine! He is EVERYTHING!” continued Jill Kelly. She included three Bible verses with her post: Galatians 3:26-27; Matthew 28:19-20; and Acts 22:16.

The next day, Jim Kelly also shared video of the big event. “I’m not a man of many words and I don’t speak ‘Christianese,’” he wrote in the Instagram caption. “All I know is that God changed my life. After Hunter went to heaven I was so lost and angry at God. But God loved me anyway and he never gave up on me.

“I’m far from perfect but God helped me humble myself and seek him for help,” Kelly continued. “Becoming a Christian is the best decision I’ve made in my life. I wish I would’ve come to him sooner. But his timing is perfect. And finally I was baptized. I have so many people to thank especially all of the people who have prayed for me for so long. THANK YOU.”

Before baptizing Kelly, his pastor referred to the spiritual journey the former athlete has undergone. It’s been “15 years of Bible study and prayer and growth,” said the pastor. “We’re proud of you, how far you’ve come—and where you’re going, it’s even better.” When the pastor asked Kelly if he loved Jesus, the former QB shouted, “Yes, I do!”

One of the many encouraging comments on Kelly’s post is from Pastor Derwin Gray, who played for the Colts from 1993 to 1997. “Let’s go!” Gray wrote. “We are in the same team now! Team Jesus.”

‘God Had a Plan for Me,’ Says Jim Kelly

During a 2021 appearance on Sports Spectrum’s “Weekly Slant” show, Jim Kelly talked about his Christian faith and how he tries to put it into action. Despite the challenges he and his family have faced, Kelly said, “It didn’t take me very long to realize that God had a plan for me, and that was to be able to share what I’ve been through to others that may be looking to give up, to not persevere through the tough times.”