August 6, 2010

Family fire still very much on Williams' mind

Not a single day passes that Shawn Williams doesn't think about the fire that destroyed his family's Damascus house early last month.

A complete and total loss, Williams' family is staying with his grandmother until a new home can be found.

Meanwhile, the sophomore safety carries on through the hot practice sessions, but it hasn't been easy.

"What's happened to me and my family has only made me work harder," Williams said after practice Thursday. "I'm doing whatever I can, anything I can, to get better so I might be able to get them a new house one day."

Williams said the cause of the fire remains unknown. Speculation is it had to do with the electrical wiring or air conditioning.

No family members were hurt in the blaze, but with the house a complete loss, that's done little to ease his pain.

"I still haven't gotten over it yet. But every time I take the field I'm thinking about my mom," Williams said. "She's so proud of me. When she told me about this, I broke down, but she wasn't mad about (the fire). She was mad that we lost the Iron Dawg Trophy that I got. I had more Georgia stuff that we lost. That's the main thing she was worried about."

Teammates have obviously been supportive.

According to Williams, outside linebacker Justin Houston was one of the first teammates who offered his support.

A similar tragedy hit Houston's family his freshman year.

"Everybody's been very supportive and tell me to keep my head up," Williams said. "Everybody tells me it's going to be all right."

However, not all teammates had heard about Williams' tragedy.

Fellow safety Jakar Hamilton had not heard a thing about the fire until told so by a reporter.

"I didn't know about it. You could tell on his face that something was bothering him, but I just let him keep his space," Hamilton said. "But you could tell something was wrong. I didn't ask, but you could tell it was really personal."

Head coach Mark Richt admits Williams hasn't made a big deal about his family's troubles.

"He hasn't said a lot after the first shock of it all, but I think things have settled down and I hear some good things are happening for his family," Richt said. "Shawn's really had a good summer. I'd mentioned earlier about him trimming down, getting quicker and more flexible. He studied hard and has come back better than he was at the end of the spring. He's had a tragic thing happen with him, but he hasn't allowed that to take away from all the hard work he did over the summer."

Williams played in all 13 games for Georgia last year, collecting five tackles in a backup role. He's expected to play a key backup role this fall along with being a regular on special teams.

"This (tragedy) will always be with me," Williams said. "But it's just going to make me go harder when I'm out on the field."

NOTE: Fundraising efforts have been established to assist in expenses necessary to replace the belongings lost in the fire. After consultation with the NCAA, donations must be deposited into a special account at the Bank of Early (County): Bank of Early, PO Box 527, Blakely, GA 39823, Attn: Andy Smith.

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