Baton Rouge community remembers football legend Jimmy Williams
BATON ROUGE - The Baton Rouge community came together Friday to celebrate the life of a football legend and one of the city’s own.
"The purpose of tonight is to celebrate the life of a legend," said Trey Godfrey, one of Williams' closest friends.
Friday, hundreds showed up to honor Jimmy Williams, a former Episcopal High and NFL football star.
"Jimmy was passionate about anything he was involved in. Number one, his family," said Travis Bourgeois, head football coach at Episcopal.
Williams married his college sweetheart, and they have a son together.
"Number two, his football," Bourgeois said.
Williams was a star football player at Episcopal High, went on to play at Vanderbilt and then played six seasons in the NFL.
"Then Episcopal," Bourgeois said.
After his NFL career, Williams returned to his high school alma mater to give back in the ways he knew best.
"It was meaningful for Jimmy to make an impact in his own community. Jimmy could have gone anywhere, lived anywhere in the world, but he wanted to be here where he was from so that he could make a difference in his community around people he loved, at a school that meant so much to him," Godfrey said.
Hundreds attended the memorial.
"Even on a day like today where the weather's been poor, there's such an outpouring of love and support for him," Godfrey said.
Different generations were in attendance, from kids to adults. Everyone had different memories with Williams.
"A few weeks later, Coach Jimmy shows up in his blue Impala or Cadillac… whatever it was," one of his former students shared.
But it was obvious the impact the football star had not just on his athletes, but to everyone he encountered.
"He probably thought that he was getting through to the boys, pushing them and motivating them and mentoring them, and I think he was doing the same to the coaches," said Daryl Cohen, another one of his closest friends.
And those who knew him say you couldn't help but love him.
"The great thing about Jimmy is you gone have an argument with him, but at the end you're going to be friends," Bourgeois said.
His funeral service was earlier Friday.
The Baton Rouge football star died from an illness at the age of 43.