Auburn wide receiver and Louisiana native D’haquille Williams signed with the Tigers in part to get away from the violence that surrounded him in his hometown of LaPlace, La. On Saturday, Williams plays his first game in his home state since high school when Auburn travels to Death Valley to face LSU.
Williams tells the story of his troubled past in a feature written by AL.com’s James Crepea. The piece details Kyrian Gray’s death. Gray, a close family friend of Williams, was 16 years old when he was shot to death a few houses away from a graduation party Williams was attending during Memorial Day weekend in 2013. Williams, a standout at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College at the time, had just decommitted from LSU a few days before the shooting.
“When he got shot, I just (saw) him running,” Williams told reporters last year. “He hit the fence (of a nearby house), like running sideways but he hit the fence. So I just ran over there. (I) had him in my arms. … He was young. He had his whole life to live.”
Crepea reports that Williams traveled to California to stay with a brother after the incident. Williams committed to Auburn in July 2013, nearly two months after the death of his close friend.
“It just made me realize life is too short,” Williams told Crepea. “When I lost him, it just hit me, it was like, I got to get out of here.”
The senior caught 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns in his first season at Auburn. He is regarded as one of the top wide receiver prospects entering the NFL Draft.
Win or lose, Williams will likely return to Louisiana on Saturday with a heavy heart.
— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) September 17, 2015