NFL Charities Graphic

Donate to Paypal Image

Todd Williams: Turning kids into believers

Written by Ernest Hooper,St. Petersburg Times

Todd Williams, 23, spent two years living on the streets during a crime-filled youth. At 14 he met All Sports Community Service director Tyrone Keys at the Leslie Peters Halfway House in Tamp and began to turn his life around. Now a senior offensive tackle for Florida State University, Williams dreams of playing pro football - and more.

I was headed down a ridiculous path.
When you don't believe you can make it, it's hard. You need to have successful people around you, making you believe because they believe. I got tired of running from the cops, disrespecting authority, disrespecting women.

I could believe Mr. Keys because he was a successful man. He knew what it took; a lot of hard work.

If I hadn't turned my life around, I would have ended up dead or in jail. It was the lord who helped me to turn things around.

Last week, I worked with Mr. Keys and dealt with kids and told the 17-year-old kids what to expect in college. Kids need to know the value of an education before anything. It would be unrealistic to teach these kids to aspire to the pros. But all of these kids can go to college and get a degree. Anyone can do that.

I also speak with kids at the Boys and Girls Town in Tallahassee.

The message I give them is, "Believe. You got to believe to achieve."

They've been told so long that they'll never make it. People told me I would never make it, but I know what it takes to make it from the bottom of the barrel.

I tell them I walked the way of a person committing crimes and not doing right. I will them life is easier when you're doing right, not committing crimes and doing wrong.

I know I've helped kids because they've listened to that. When you're told you'll never make it, it makes you give up hope. So many kids are told they can't make it, especially a lot of inner-city kids.

My dream is to set up an orphanage for underprivileged kids, kids without a home. But for now, I'll continue to work with kids.

I owe it to these kids. When a kid asks me a question, I owe him a response. And an honest one. Kids look up to athletes as role models.

When I'm done wit football, get married and have kids, these kids here today will be the role models for my kids. They'll be the teachers.