Paralyzed Safety Visits Teammates, Stadium

April 27, 2002

By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer

SEATTLE- Curtis Williams sat in his wheelchair high above the HuskyStadium turf, watching as his former Washington teammates warmed up for theirannual spring game.

The band played, but the stadium just didn't have the same feel for Williamsas a football Saturday in the fall. Most of the bleachers were empty.

'It's just the spring game,' he said with a smile. 'I'll come back for areal game. Then it will probably be emotional.'

Williams returned to the stadium Saturday for the first time since he wasparalyzed in a game at Stanford during the 2000 season. He was in town for abenefit dinner Thursday night that raised $30,000 for the Curtis Williams Fund.

'I've been lucky,' he said. 'I'm thankful for the support of the city andthe school.'

Williams, who turns 24 next Saturday, was injured in a head-to-head hit onStanford running back Kerry Carter near the Cardinal goal line in an October2000 game.

Now a quadriplegic, he lives in Fresno, Calif., with his older brother,David. Williams is under 24-hour care five days a week.

'It was neat to have him back,' coach Rick Neuheisel said Thursday afterseeing Williams. 'It's hard to believe this is the first time he's returned.I'm very proud of Curtis, as I'm sure everyone associated with Washingtonfootball is in terms of how he's handled the adversity.

'I don't know if given a similar set of circumstances that I'd be as toughas he is. It's just a remarkable resiliency that he's shown.'

Kicker John Anderson said the team was thrilled to have Williams back oncampus.

'Everybody knows him and what he's been through,' Anderson said. 'He's aspecial kid, how strong he's been through the whole thing. Your heart goes outto the kid because he's been strong in adversity. I think everyone can learnsomething from Curtis Williams.

'He can smile every day with what he's been through and it makes you feellucky you can still play football and you want to play like he did.'

Williams is six classes short of earning his degree from Washington inAmerican Ethnic Studies. He plans to take correspondence courses and completethe work in about a year.

He is gradually improving his ability to speak, using a breathing devicestrapped under his chin.

'It just takes time,' he said. 'I have to get a breath to talk.'

Williams was scheduled to return to Fresno on Sunday. He said he plans toattend games at Washington this season and also some of the Huskies' road gamesin California.

'One of the things that has to be remembered is we can't go back and fixwhat happened or change the physics of what took place on the field at StanfordStadium' in October 2000, Neuheisel said. 'But we certainly can provide allthe resources so that he can still be challenged and still be excited aboutgoals that can be accomplished.

'That is what has been our motivation other than to be there for a friend.He's a great ambassador for our program.'

What is Williams' assessment of the Huskies?

'I'm not sure yet,' he said. 'They've got a lot of talent.'

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