'Robber is not my name.' Johnnie Williams: A story of hope and redemption

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By BETHANY SHERROW
Assistant News Editor
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Johnnie Williams spent 18 years in prison.
After playing college football at a community college and then moving on to play on a scholarship at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, Williams said everything went downhill.
“College partying – I liked it too much,” Williams said. “I forgot my purpose and I want to stress to the students of UCM to stay true to their purpose.”
Williams said he came home in January 2015 and since February he has been traveling to churches, community events and colleges to share his story.
“When I’m standing on a stage, I’m talking to a group of people that are just like me,” he said. “I believe that I can shine a light on something that they potentially need to know.”
Williams said that people, college students in particular, can learn from his history.
“What I have to say touches more than just college athletics, but that was something that my heart was in,” Williams said. “That was also where it went wrong for me.”
Williams’ story is not just a cautionary tale though. He said he doesn’t take a scared-straight approach.
It’s a story of hope.
“Hope is what kept me alive the entire time I was in prison,” he said.
Williams said he hopes many students will give him a chance and come hear his story. He will be speaking from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Oct. 7 in Hendricks Hall as part of the UCM Speaker Series, sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Department of Criminal Justice. A Q&A session will follow his presentation.