Local NFL Veteran Motivates DJJ Teens

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – Some of the teens behind the razor wire at the SC Department of Juvenile Justice got some life lessons Friday from NFL veteran Willie Williams. The Columbia native played 13 seasons as a cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks, playing in two Super Bowls for the Steelers.

He told them that, even though whatever they did to get themselves sent to DJJ is a failure, everyone fails. “You’ve got to go through that trial and tribulation. You’re going to fail. The reason why you fail, you’re going to look at your mistake that caused you to fail and then you’re going to try to correct it. I guarantee you that situation comes up again you won’t fail at it,” he told the teens at DJJ’s Midlands Evaluation Center in Columbia.

He told them they need to stay positive every day, have self-discipline, have confidence, stay hungry, and learn from the mistakes that got them there.

About half the boys and girls he spoke to said they’re athletes. He said he knows from experience that they all need to have backup plans. He said people joke that NFL stands for Not For Long, because the average player is in the league for only three years. He said he was able to stay in it for 13 years because he put in the work and stayed self-motivated and positive.

“Stay away from the alcohol, marijuana, all that, drugs that’s going to deplete you. You stay away from that stuff. I guarantee you if you continue to do it everybody’s going to be going this way and you’re going to be lagging behind. I’ve seen it,” he said, saying he had seen teammates get suspended for drug use.

He closed by telling the teens, “Respect yourself and respect others. I guarantee you, you will have a better life.”

He told reporters afterward he hopes his speech will have a positive impact on the teens. “They make mistakes,” he said. “They’re kids. That’s the way I see it. They’re still young. But even though that’s mistakes made, they can accomplish a lot of things from their mistakes.”

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