Being away from home was difficult for Khai Williams. Even if it was for a short time.
He missed being away from parents, siblings and friends.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back completed his senior season in 2014 with Edison High. and the following February signed with Humboldt State in Arcata, more than 450 miles from Fresno.
After redshirting his first season, Williams headed back home looking for a fresh start at Fresno City College, joining the Rams for spring workouts with the thought of playing in front of his parents.
“Missed being home,” he said.
But just last week, tragedy struck for Williams and his family.
Williams was at work when he got a text from his older brother: “Call me when you get off work. It’s urgent.”
According to Fresno Police, a 45-year-old man was struck and killed by an Amtrak train in central Fresno on July 29. Khai said the man was his father, Clifford Williams.
After hearing the sad news, Williams said he will dedicate the season to his father, who hadn’t seen him play in high school.
I’m going to get his name tattooed on my forearm.
Fresno City running back Khai Williams on his father, who was killed July 29
“I’m going to get his name tattooed on my forearm,” Williams said. “Every time I’m blessed to see that end zone, I’m holding (my finger up to the sky) for every camera to see (the tattoo). My left side will not be covered at all during the season. I’m going to make sure the tattoo is showing every game no matter the condition that’s going on. My left side is going to be open because that’s where I’m going have his name.”
Rams coaches have offered support to Williams.
“Any time when you lose a parent, it’s tough,” Fresno City coach Tony Caviglia said. “Khai said, ‘I know he’s going to be watching me and looking over me.’ He really wishes he could spend more time with him.”
He’s a very open and honest young man.
Fresno City running back coach Jesus Reyes on Khai Williams
Added Rams running back coach Jesus Reyes: “We let them know we’re more than just a coaching staff showing them football, but we also mentor them as well, helping out with life.”
Williams hasn’t taken any time off from conditioning workouts because, he said, that’s what his father would want him to do. He’s expected to see playing time in a crowded backfield, and Caviglia said Williams is emerging as one of team’s leaders.
“I have high expectations for him,” Caviglia said. “I think he has a lot of upside as a running back, but more importantly he has tremendous leadership qualities.”
Williams described himself as “a change-of-pace guy” and he’s looking forward to showing that when the season opens Sept. 3 at Sierra College in Rocklin.
“Ball in my hand, I’m looking to score,” he said. “I feel like the coaches are starting to believe in me more. They see how I encourage people and trust me more with the ball in my hands.”
Fresno City College football key dates
- Aug. 11: Fall practice begins (helmets)
- Aug. 13: Practice (full pads)
- Aug. 25: Scrimmage at Sacramento City
- Aug. 28: Wall of Fame ceremony at Pardini’s
- Sept. 3: Season opener at Sierra, 2 p.m.
Fresno City football schedule
3 at Sierra, 2 p.m.
10 vs. Santa Rosa, 5 p.m.
17 at San Mateo, 2 p.m.
24 vs. American River, 6 p.m.
1 vs. Reedley, 6 p.m.
15 at Chabot*, 6 p.m.
22 vs. Modesto*, 1 p.m.
28 at Laney*, 6 p.m.
5 vs. San Joaquin Delta*, 1 p.m.
12 at COS*, 1 p.m.
*Valley Conference game