Football athlete Ricky Williams was born Errick Lynne Williams, Jr. in May 21, 1977 in San Diego, California. Williams was born to relatively young parents, who ultimately separated when Williams was six years old. Although the mother was awarded custody of Ricky and his siblings, Williams still has a close bond with his father.
During his school years, Williams was involved in his school’s accelerated program. However, Williams and his twin sister were allegedly victims of racist remarks from other students while growing up. This resulted in accumulated anger, which Williams sometimes vented by playing sports. In San Diego’s Patrick Henry High School, Williams primarily played baseball and football, but also ran track and wrestled.
On the football field, Ricky gained 2,099 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. He was named “Offensive Player of the Year” by the San Diego Union-Tribune. A tremendous athlete, he was selected out of Patrick Henry High School in the 8th round of the 1995 baseball amateur draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, and played four years at the Class A level. He was then taken in the 1998 Rule V Draft by the Montreal Expos, who sold his rights to the Texas Rangers. He played college football for The University of Texas at Austin and was backed up by all-star Chiefs running back, Priest Holmes. Williams holds or shares 20 NCAA records, and became the NCAA “career rushing” leader in 1998 with 6,279 yards. Williams won the 64th Heisman Trophy, becoming the second Texas Longhorn to win this honor, joining Earl Campbell.
The New Orleans Saints selected Williams as the fifth pick of the 1999 NFL Draft. Head coach Mike Ditka traded all of the Saints’ 1999 draft picks to get Williams, the first time one player was the only draft pick of an NFL team. Coach Ditka was later fired for the team’s poor performance, and Williams was traded after 3 seasons to the Miami Dolphins on March 8, 2002 for two first-round picks. In his first season with the Dolphins, he was the NFL’s leading rusher and a Pro Bowler with 1,853 yards. Currently Ricky Williams plays running back for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. He was suspended from the NFL under its drug policy for the 2006 season and is playing for the Toronto Argonauts, since the CFL does not honor the NFL’s ban.
Ricky Williams has admitted being very shy and was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, which he struggled to cope with during his football career. Williams was treated with therapy and medication. While taking pharmaceuticals, Williams was briefly a spokesperson for the drug Paxil as treatment for the disorder. He later quit Paxil saying the drug didn’t agree with his diet. To alleviate his symptoms, he smoked marijuana during the NFL football season and was consequently penalized. Ricky Willams said marijuana had been a better treatment since it produced fewer side effects. In an interview with ESPN, Williams stated, “Marijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil.” Williams also admitted in a 60 Minutes interview that one of the main reasons for his retirement was to avoid the humiliation of his marijuana use being made public.
Upon failure of his third drug test, Williams made his retirement official on August 2, 2004. Ineligible to play for the 2004 season he decided to study Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of holistic medicine. He attended the California College of Ayurveda in Grass Valley, California and recently converted to Hinduism. Williams maintains (to this day) that he doesn’t regret the retirement decision. He feels that it was the “most positive thing” he has ever done in his life, allowing him time to find him self. A qualified yoga instructor, he has stated that one of his main reasons for joining the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts is for the opportunity to teach free yoga lessons at a local Toronto yoga facility.
While not married, Williams has four children, and a fifth is on the way as of 2006. Ricky is a vegetarian, supporter of animal rights and active member of PETA.