At different points in his life, the path he could have taken would have led to disastrous results. But Jon Williams never let that happen.
By the time Jon was in third grade, his Dad was in prison on a murder charge. Three of his six siblings would become drug addicts and the streets of Somerville, N.J., were calling for more victims.
With help, Jon managed to avoid the temptations. That help can from his mother, herself from a family of 21 kids, and his own sense of what was right. Instead of running with a group that would lead him down the path of destruction, he chose to hang with a group of smart kids who made the commitment to avoid drugs at all costs.
Football was an oasis for Jon and his coaches knew that. They had witnessed Jon’s older brother, a gifted athlete, succumb to drugs. Jon and his coaches were determined to not have that happen again.
Perhaps Jon’s biggest influence came from his high school coach, Jerry Moore. Moore treated Jon like a son, having his wife tutor him and making sure he kept his grades up.
The help allowed Jon to have a vision beyond New Jersey that included college, something not even on his radar screen prior to Moore’s tutelage.
Schools took notice, including Penn State, and Jon decided to play for Joe Paterno, where the competition would be fierce but education would be guaranteed if he really wanted it.
Paterno saw one of Jon’s weaknesses being confident in himself and in large part that was due to a stuttering problem. So “Joe Pa” set Jon up with some linguistic training and then took it a step further, having Jon appear on his weekly coach’s television show.
After being part of a National Championship team (he gave his ring to Jerry Moore), Jon was drafted by the Patriots in the third round in 1984.
His career was a short one, blowing out his knee. It seemed like before it even started, Jon’s pro career was over. More importantly, so was football, the oasis that had protected him throughout his life.
At 25 years of age, Jon was at another crossroads. Once again, he sought advice, this time from his minister, Kevin Younger, who made it clear that Jon would essentially have to start over.
His job at Reebok in their shipping/receiving department helped Jon get back in touch with what life was for the everyday person.
He also decided his life experience should not be kept to himself so he also started being a councilor to at-risk boys.
Eventually, the confidence he started accumulating while at Penn State and in the workforce led to him accepting a job in sales with FedEx, where he works to this day.