These are the stories of those who made good against all odds. Being a Rise Legend means facing a challenge, following a dream, and leaving all obstacles in the rearview. It means success in the face of towering disadvantage. Within everyone is a Rise Legend, but only the brave and the fearless will find it.
As a child, Roy Williams wasn’t exactly a prodigy or a portrait of future successes. Roy was unable to read until the 10th grade, his learning disability left him frustrated in class, problematic with teachers, and antagonized by his peers. His mother was never able to own a home and his family was forced to rent in dangerous neighborhoods, something that distracted Roy further from his educational struggles. Roy’s only release was football but, even there, he required extra attention from coaches to wrap his mind around the playbook. This was not the appearance of a college hopeful. But Roy Williams was not concerned with appearances and, though it took three attempts to pass his ACT’s, Roy was given the opportunity to play safety for the University of Oklahoma.
In 2001, legendary rivals Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns met on the field once again. With minutes left, the Longhorns had a chance to make the game winning drive. Roy Williams was just one of many players on the field that day posed to blitz, each one with the potential to etch their legend, to leave their mark on the field. Roy had two choices, crumble under the opposition and be forgotten in that moment or hone in on Longhorn’s quarterback, Chris Simms, vault over a wall of meat and muscle, and rise above the pressure. Which path did he choose? There’s a reason they call him “Superman.”
Roy continued that heroism on and off the field. He went on to become one of the NFL’s most celebrated safeties while playing for the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals. And the first thing he did with his newfound and hard-earned wealth was buy his mother her first home, even before finding one for himself. This selflessness continued when, in 2004, he started the Safety Net Foundation to help low-income single mothers find support. Even after his retirement in 2011, Roy Williams kept up his commitment to football and philanthropy and is now a part of a series of Japanese football camps whose proceeds will go back to the area’s tsunami victims, doing what he can to help future athletes rise from under the weight of tragedy. There’s a reason they call him “Superman.” Roy epitomizes what it means to live above expectations and the Rise brand is honored to have Roy Williams as the first of our Rise Legends.