I received this story in an email from one of my LSU alumni relatives. It was posted on one of their fan boards.
With the 2010 football season rapidly approaching(19 days and counting), I thought this story would be a good read for football fans and non-football types, as well.
This weekend I got to visit with a good friend from Slidell. She is a Chemistry teacher at Slidell High where Armand Williams is from. Armand was raised in New Orleans East. He and his mom lost everything in Katrina so they moved to Slidell to start over. She was telling me that Armand was one of her best students that sat in the front of class, paid attention and always did his assignments, just a top notch kid.
During the football season for Slidell she noticed that Armand went from being a leader in the class to sleeping through classes. He went from making top grades to average grades. Like any good teacher would do she went to him and asked him what in the world was going on with him. He let her know that he and his mom were homeless and living in his mom’s car. She didn’t have a job and didn’t have the money for food so when he ate his free lunch at school that was the only meal of the day for him. Here is this 6’-3” football player that was sleeping in the back seat of a car with his mom, trying to do well enough in football to get a scholarship, trying to keep up his grades. All on just one school lunch every day.
Right then she gave him her cell and her husband’s cell and said “I want you to call me or my husband every day after you get done with football. We’ll come pick you up from school, you’ll eat dinner with my family and after that you’ll do homework with my kids.” Armand did just as she asked and he went right back to getting great grades and paying attention in class. She also worked with his mom to get her reestablished in a home so Williams could have a place to stay. One night after doing homework and eating with her family they dropped off Armand where his mother was living. Just minutes after dropping him off at his mom’s place they got a call. His mom left a note on the door saying she was leaving and that he was on his own, he needed to find a place to live. From there on he lived with my friend’s family. He had a stable home and as much food as he wanted.
As most of you know Armand wasn’t an instate player that LSU really showed a lot of interest in. His senior year Slidell had a very young QB that wasn’t the best passer, so the only way that they could get him the ball consistently was by WR screens. He didn’t have outstanding stats or the best highlight tape so a lot of top teams didn’t really know what he could do. So he committed to Arkansas who gave him the best offer that he had.
After the season he went to Emfinger’s All-Star game in Texas. He got a chance to play with a good QB and lit it up. He finished the game with over 200 yards receiving and won MVP of the game. Luckily Coach Gonzales was there and saw what this kid could do with a good QB. He called Miles and told him that LSU had to offer him a scholarship and asked why they weren’t recruiting him already. Shortly after he earned an LSU offer and quickly committed.
A few days after reporting to LSU for the summer Armand called my friend and was in a full panic. Apparently Slidell High didn’t process his transcript papers correctly so he was going to have to leave school if he couldn’t produce a sealed and signed (by the high school principal) copy of his transcripts. Luckily she was able to get a copy the same day and bring it to LSU.
While there she wanted to check on how he was doing with football and see if there was anything she could do to help Williams. When she got to the ops center she found Coach Gonzales and he brought her to Miles’ office where she got to meet with the offensive staff. Miles was the first to greet her, he got out of his chair and gave her a hug and told her, “Welcome to the LSU family, we don’t shake hands here. Thank you for all you’ve done, I know it wasn’t easy but it is appreciated.” They let her know that they are going to play Armand on special teams this year and they wanted him to get up to 220 lbs (he’s not that far off from that now) so that he could be ready to try to fill in where Rueben Randle is playing now in 2011.
While saying goodbye to the coaches Miles told her that he looked forward to seeing her in the family section at the LSU games. She told him that she had never been to an LSU game before because she’d rather watch the game in HD at home and avoid the crowds. Miles told her “You are Armand’s family. You are in the LSU family. If you are really concerned about him doing well and about LSU doing well we need to be able to look up from the field and see those who support us. I can’t wait to meet the rest of your family after our first home game this year.” Needless to say she promised that they would go to all the home games.
I just thought it was a cool story. In one year’s time this kid is going from living in a car and only eating one meal a day to earning a scholarship at LSU, getting good grades in summer school, and in about a month and a half he’ll be running out of the tunnel in Tiger Stadium in front of 92,000. He just needed a lot of food, a place to call home and family support. I’m glad he’s at LSU.
Such a great story of good people helping a good kid facing a rough time.
I sincerely hope Armand will take full advantage of the opportunity that has been presented to him. We so often hear of young men on athletic scholarships that behave badly or don’t take advantage of their opportunities.
Having faced adversity at such a young age, I think this young man will have a level of experience and maturity most of his teammates can’t comprehend.
Below is a video of this young man playing football. I like the way he conducts himself and how he courteously gives the ball to the referee after scoring, instead of acting like so many do…idiotic.