Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Changed Man Hokies' Williams Sober for Three Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Changed Man Hokies' Williams Sober for Three Years

Article excerpt

NEW ORLEANS -- Walking up and down Bourbon Street in New Orleans can be tempting to anyone, particularly college-aged students.

It's impossible to walk more than 10 steps without seeing an establishment aimed at selling beer, Hurricanes, or other intoxicating beverages. If it's a drink you want, then you've come to the right place.

There was a time in Nate Williams' life when he couldn't have thought of a better place to be than on Bourbon Street. But while thousands of people lined the famed New Orleans street on New Year's Eve, Williams was strong enough to stay away.

That night marked the three-year anniversary since Williams, a Jackson High graduate, last had a drink. December 31, 1996, was the date Williams, 20 years old at the time, admitted to himself that he was an alcoholic.

Tired of the nights filled with six-packs, the days of coming to practice reeking of alcohol, the disturbing trend of getting into trouble, missing classes and being late for team meetings, Williams decided on his own to make a change in his life. He feared the person he saw himself becoming.

"I had an opportunity to get a degree and I could see it slipping away," Williams said. "A lot of people from my eastside in Jacksonville don't make it. I'm just representing the eastside. People would like to see me make it, be the first from out east to do it. Seeing stuff like that made me want to make that change."

During the night of his revelation, Williams sat at home in Jacksonville, watching his teammates get pummelled by Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, 44-21. Williams had been suspended indefinitely for a variety of trouble beginning on Nov. 6 that year when he and seven other football players were indicted for beating a Virginia Tech track and field athlete.

Williams was charged with a misdemeanor assault and battery. Eight months later, he was found innocent. Soon after that incident, he was charged with DUI in Blacksburg, Va. The final blow came when he was caught drinking at a Hokies basketball game. …

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