BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Those close to former NFL wide receiver Mike Williams are asking for continued prayers Friday as the Buffalo native fights for his life in a Tampa hospital.
Williams, 36, was on life support this week after suffering complications from a workplace accident. According to Tierney Lyle, the mother of Williams’ 8-year-old daughter, he was taken off the ventilator Thursday night but survived and remains responsive.
“We need prayer warriors to continue to pray and spread the word,” Lyle told WIVB News 4.
Reports that Williams had died began circulating in local and national media earlier this week, but sources told News 4 that those reports were premature.
Lyle described Williams as a caring person who was always willing to lend a hand.
“He puts a lot of emphasis on everything he does,” she said. “He doesn’t give up easily at all.”
She added that a friend smiled as he played one of Williams’ highlight videos in the hospital room.
Two people close to Williams said his work-related accident was not initially considered life-threatening. A friend said he was hit in the head by a beam while doing electrical work on August 21, but his situation changed when his laceration became infected. Williams was hospitalized on September 1 and eventually had to be put into a coma.
Williams was a standout sophomore athlete at Riverside High School in Buffalo before attending Syracuse University. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and played five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his hometown Buffalo Bills. He was last on an NFL roster during Chiefs training camp in 2016 and was living in Florida before the accident. Williams has two children, Mya Williams, 8, and a 10-year-old son, Mike Jr.
Williams played football and basketball for Riverside and made the All Western New York teams in both sports. He was selected for all Syracuse football conferences and also served briefly on the Syracuse basketball team.
Williams was named to the NFL’s all-rookie team in 2010 and threw 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns after being selected by the Buccaneers in the fourth round of the draft.
Williams earned a six-year, $40 million contract extension with the Bucs after scoring 23 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Less than a year later, Williams was traded to the Bills for a sixth-round pick. He was released by his home team after catching eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown in 2014.
Williams played in 29 games over three seasons at Syracuse and caught 133 passes for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns, ranking second on the school’s all-time list. He caught a pass in all 28 games he played, the fifth-longest streak in school history. One of four true freshmen playing for the Orange in 2006, clinching 461 yards, the most by a Syracuse freshman since 1990. Williams was a second-team All-Big East selection as a sophomore. His nine-game streak with one touchdown reception was the longest in the country that year.
A high school graduate in 2005, Williams had 970 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, which earned him Harvard Cup Offensive Player of the Year honors and first-team Class AA All-State honors. He was ranked the #10 recruiting candidate in New York by Rivals.com before settling on Syracuse.
On the basketball court, Williams scored 1,468 points for Riverside teams that went unbeaten in Yale Cup play for two full seasons. As a senior, he averaged 26.3 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. During his sophomore year, Williams was on the Syracuse basketball team, playing four games and scoring seven points.