Michigan State running back Delton Williams was once thought to be the next in line to pound his way to another 1,000-yard season in East Lansing.
That was until the young man made a mistake that almost cost his entire collegiate football career altogether.
A road rage incident involving a gun this past March put Williams’ eligibility in question, among other things. The court of public opinion quickly stated its own stance.
But as Joe Rexrode wrote in the Detroit Free Press, it’s not the first personal challenge Williams has faced in his young life. And it’s also not the most heartbreaking.
Last December his older brother, Jaree Warren, was shot and killed outside of a bar in Erie — leaving 7-year-old son Jaree Jr. and newborn daughter Aris Jarae without a father.
The family has not gotten over the tragedy involving Jaree, and to make matters worse the collective public made their own assumptions about what really happened to Delton Williams during the car incident in March.
He was arrested at his apartment on March 16, eight days before the start of spring football would have allotted Williams an opportunity to take over Jeremy Langford’s former starting job.
Rexrode explained the police report, which described Williams cutting off another driver in 2011 Chevy Impala. When the opposing driver pulled up next to Williams, he showed his gun.
Williams’ gun possession was a call to action after the sudden death of his brother. He said he never meant to actually use it. Fear had overtaken him.
He later lost his gun and his right to carry a concealed weapon in any state as part of a reduced weapons charge he pleaded to in 54-B District Court in East Lansing. His record will be cleared by Dec. 18 if he stays out of any more trouble.
There is also one more caveat: Williams no longer has an athletic scholarship. He has to pay like all non-athletes on campus.
But for the running back who has amassed 554 combined yards in the last two years for the Spartans, life has taken him in a whirlwind over the past couple years. From being part of a triumphant Rose Bowl victory in Pasadena in early 2014, to losing his brother in cold-blooded fashion nearly one year later, there is nowhere to go but up.
“As a result of my decision, manhood has been thrust upon me. I’ve grown up a lot over the last four months,” Williams said in a press release issued by MSU July 27.
MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis said the situation revolving Williams was taken as seriously as it would be for any other student. He, coach Mark Dantonio and even President Lou Anna K. Simon deliberated on what would make the most sense.
“In the end, my focus was on, what’s a fair process?” Hollis said. “What would be done for other students on campus? And my feeling about Delton is more about my face-to-face interaction with him than any stories surrounding his life.”
The student who got into the road rage altercation with Delton Williams was Anan Abubaker, also an MSU student who was never into MSU football in the first place. But after seeing the good and bad side of Williams — from being threatened with a gun out of what he calls “fear” to doing a Google search of Williams and finding about the news of his brother — a shift in tone became quite abrupt.
Life is about second chances and certain moments can dictate the rest of our lives. In most cases reality consists of making the most out of any situation, and the life of Delton Williams is no different.
“I strongly believe he’s a great guy who made a mistake in a moment of fear,” Abubaker said. “I’m his biggest fan this year.”