BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Those close to former NFL wide receiver Mike Williams are asking for continued prayers Friday as the Buffalo native fights for his life in a Tampa hospital.
Williams, 36, had been on life support this week after suffering complications from a workplace accident. He was taken off a ventilator Thursday evening but is surviving and remains responsive, according to Tierney Lyle, the mother of Williams’ 8-year-old daughter.
“We need prayer warriors to continue praying and spread the word,” Lyle told Nexstar’s WIVB.
Reports that Williams had died circulated in local and national outlets earlier this week, but WIVB sources maintained that those reports were premature.
Lyle described Williams as a caring person who is always willing to lend a hand.
“He goes hard in everything he does,” she said. “He doesn’t give up easily at all.”
She added that when a friend played one of Williams’ highlight videos in the hospital room, he smiled.
Two people close to Williams said his on-the-job accident was not initially thought to be life-threatening. He was hit in the head with a beam while doing electrical work on Aug. 21, a friend said, but his situation took a turn when his laceration became infected. Williams was hospitalized on Sept. 1 and eventually had to be induced into a coma.
Williams was a two-sport standout at Buffalo’s Riverside High School before attending Syracuse University. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and played five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his hometown Buffalo Bills. He last appeared on an NFL roster with the Chiefs during training camp in 2016 and had been living in Florida prior to the accident. Williams has two children, Mya Williams, 8, and a 10-year-old son, Mike Jr.
Williams starred in football and basketball for Riverside, making the All-Western New York team in both sports. He was an all-conference selection in football at Syracuse and also had a brief stint on the Syracuse basketball team.
Williams made the NFL’s all-rookie team in 2010, catching 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns after the Buccaneers selected him in the fourth round of the draft.
Williams earned a six-year, $40 million contract extension with the Bucs after compiling 23 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Less than a year later, Williams was traded to the Bills for a sixth-round pick. He was released by his hometown team after catching eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown in 2014.
Playing in 29 games over three seasons at Syracuse, Williams caught 133 passes for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns, tied for second on the school’s all-time list. He caught a pass in all 28 games he played, the fifth-longest streak in school history. One of four true freshmen to play for the Orange in 2006, his 461 yards receiving was the most by a Syracuse freshman since 1990. Williams was a second-team All-Big East selection as a sophomore. His nine-game streak with a touchdown reception was the longest in the country that year.
As a high school senior in 2005, Williams had 970 yards receiving and scored 15 touchdowns, earning Harvard Cup offensive player of the year and first-team Class AA All-State accolades. He was rated the No. 10 recruiting prospect in New York by Rivals.com before committing to Syracuse.
On the basketball court, Williams scored 1,468 points for Riverside teams that went undefeated in Yale Cup play for two full seasons. He averaged 26.3 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals as a senior. During his sophomore year of college, During his sophomore year of college, Williams walked on the basketball team at Syracuse and appeared in four games, scoring seven points.