RIP: Curtis Williams

A member of one of the most well-known football families in the Central Valley has died at age 24.

Curtis Williams, the University of Washington player who suffered a paralyzing injury during a game in 2001 against Stanford, died on Monday, May 6 in Clovis due to complications from the paralysis.

Williams was a 1996 All-State defensive back from Bullard High of Fresno. He had transferred to Bullard for his senior year from the small town of Coalinga and was one of the state's most versatile players. He scored 31 touchdowns and 11 of those scores were from 50 yards out or farther.

Williams' older brother, James, was a standout at Coalinga High and at Fresno State before moving on the NFL. He appeared in several Super Bowls as a member of the Buffalo Bills.

Williams' younger brother, Paul, is a senior at Avenal High and last fall was named to the All-State small schools team. Curtis Williams was able to attend at least one of Paul's games last season. According to press reports in the Fresno Bee and by Associated Press, Williams also attended the University of Washington spring game two weeks ago in Seattle.

"This has been a real tragedy, from that late October day until today," Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel told the Associated Press. "Although he was confined to a wheelchair, Curtis taught all of us associated with Husky football the true meaning of the word courage. I think anyone who met or was associated with that kid, they will find it hard to ever feel sorry for themselves, again."

After the injury, which occurred on a helmet-to-helmet hit while Williams was trying to make a tackle, Washington went on to the Rose Bowl and won the game over Purdue. The team dedicated its victory to Williams.

Curtis Williams had just had a birthday two days before his death.

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