Washington State running back James Williams takes nothing for granted

IN AN ERA WHEN a low cellphone battery may cause heart palpitations and an Uber that’s more than five minutes away is considered beyond inconvenient, Washington State running back James Williams puts a super charge into the word grateful. Three meals a day, books, pencils – he takes nothing for granted

One of the highlights of last week’s “A Night with Cougar Football” in Bellevue was a six-minute-long video about Williams’ life, from homelessness in his youth to overcoming academic struggles.

In the run up to the Holiday Bowl, Williams told reporters he was blessed by WSU’s commitment to him when he tore the ACL and MCL in his left at the start of his senior year of high school.

But that benediction only hinted at the road traveled by WSU’s leading rusher last season and his deep appreciation for what some people may take for granted, like a college education and money to buy books.

The 30-for-30 style video – designed to put a face on the scholarships that boosters help pay for through the Cougar Athletic Fund – truly tugs at the heartstrings.

EVEN WHEN HIS PARENTS AND TWO SIBLINGS were living out of their car, you’d never know the family was homeless, Williams says in the video. “Me and my brother and my sister, we were always the happiest people in the world.”

The family remains incredibly close, says the rising third-year sophomore, because “we literally went through hell and back.”

Economic hardships are just one part of his backstory.

He was a high school sophomore excelling in football, he says, when his teachers told him his academic standing would force him to a junior college. “After that, it just put a chip on my shoulder. I was mad.”

Williams put in the work to raise his grades, but needed a near-miracle in the stretch run at Burbank High to realize his college dream.

“His last semester, to qualify, he would have to get six As – an A in every class. And he got an A in every class,” beams Jim Mastro, the WSU assistant coach who recruited Williams.

After the video played at the Bellevue event, Cougar coach Mike Leach talked about the importance of perspective in life.

“Nothing he is put through in football is tougher than what he’s been through,” Leach said.

“Midnight Maneuvers, coaches shouting, hot or cold weather,” he added. “Is that really the hardest thing James Williams has been through? Are you kidding me?”

We've only touched here on a fraction of what the video shares, so do yourself a favor and take a look:

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