By Marissa Scott
Imagine waking up one day, planning to do one thing, but instead ending up changing your life forever. That exact thing happened to Paul Williams, a former American professional boxer and two-time World Boxing Organization (WBO) Welterweight Champion.
Paul “The Punisher” Williams was in a motorcycle accident in Atlanta, Georgia on May 27, 2012 that left him paralyzed under his chest.
Ever since the accident, Williams has gone around the country and inspired kids to pursue what they want in life and live every day as if it is their last.
On February 12, Eric King, a former National Football League (NFL) cornerback who played for the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions, introduced Williams at Granada Hills Charter High School’s “Three R’s” assembly in Highlander Hall for the current spring semester athletes. During the assembly, King explained what the Three R’s mean in the sports world and how all of the athletes should live by the motto.
“The first R is respecting yourself. It is very important to watch the circles that you keep ladies and gentlemen,” King said. “Don’t run with the big dogs because you’re bound to catch fleas.”
After explaining the importance of the Three R’s, King introduced Williams and showed a recap of Williams’ career to the students. The audience was astonished by the skill and difficulty of his job as a professional boxer.
“When the video started, I was expecting him to be decent, but as they showed more clips, I was amazed by how he lasted so long,” senior, Brenden Choi said. “I do not watch boxing because it looks boring, but his clips got me interested.”
Williams went on to talk about how he started boxing and how it ended up changing his life and getting him off the streets. At the age of 18, Williams had his first fight in a club and his career took off.
After his accident, Williams realized that sports careers could change unexpectedly, so he stressed to the athletes that it is essential to get an education and finish school.
“Why do I keep saying to graduate? When I was growing up, things were easy, but now, times have changed. You cannot get a job anywhere without a high school diploma; that is why I am telling you to graduate,” Williams said.
Following his presentation, Williams was kind enough to pose for pictures and sign autographs for any athletes who wanted them. There were some students who were moved by Williams’ presentation, and went up to him after to thank him.
Senior Joyce Chae was especially moved by Williams’ speech. “When I was in my seat, I thought how much it touched me and how amazing he was. I felt something say to me, ‘You should go pray for him,’” said Chae. “I waited until after and I prayed for him and got to talk to him and I was really glad I did.”