D.J. Williams, tight end for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, has been selected as the 2010 recipient for Disney’s Spirit Award. The award annually honors college football’s most inspirational figure.
Raised until age 11 in a home torn apart by his alcoholic, drug-addicted, and abusive father, Williams, his mother, Vicky, and his younger sister, Vanessa, fled their Dallas, Texas, home to seek a better life. The family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, and looked for an opportunity to start fresh.
Williams credits his success to his mother’s tenacity. “Watching my mother, who never quit, is the inspiration for me each day and a lesson for us all,” said Williams.
In addition to his incredible personal story of overcoming odds, Williams has himself given back to the community that he now calls home. He participates in Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and volunteers for the local Boys & Girls Club, as well as the Children’s Hospital. Using his influence as a prominent college football player, Williams hopes to help others. “My hope is the story of my family will show those who are experiencing a similar ordeal that they are not alone and there is help and a way out,” he says.
Williams has garnered much recognition during his career with the Razorbacks. He has been an All-SEC pick the past two seasons. Williams has also been in contention for the John Mackey Award for the country’s best college tight end in 2008, 2009, and again in 2010. His own school has recognized him as well with the Inaugural Razorback Spirit Award in 2009. The award goes to the Razorback whose “performance throughout their career serves to uplift their sport to new heights and whose character exemplifies the ideals of the athletic department.”
Williams becomes the 15th recipient of the Disney Spirit Award in a ceremony to be held on Thursday, December 9, during The Home Depot College Football Awards, which will take place at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The 20th annual awards show, which begins at 7 p.m. Eastern, will be broadcast live on EPSN.