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Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Bengals' Roy Williams always in a giving mood

Nearly nine years ago, Cincinnati Bengals safety Roy Williams heard his name called in the NFL draft: eighth overall to the Dallas Cowboys, which eventually landed him more than $9 million in bonuses.

But Williams didn't wait until his first football payday to begin giving back.

The way he tells it, it started with Mom.

Roy Williams
Bengals safety Roy Williams keeps busy with charitable causes.

"When I was like 7, 8 years old, [my mom and I] went to a homeless shelter to feed the homeless," Williams said. "So that's always been instilled in me."

Williams said the philanthropy continued through high school (where he won a community service award and scholarship), and his career at the University of Oklahoma, and now as a pro.

Williams currently works with the organizations Pros for Africa, Pros 4 Vets and FATE (Fighting Addiction Through Education).

And he does work. Reached last Tuesday in his current hometown of Oklahoma City, the California native was between gigs: He had just finished speaking at the state capitol for FATE, and was readying himself for an event for Pros 4 Vets. And in March, Williams and nine other NFL players traveled overseas for a joint mission between Pros for Africa and the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

That wasn't the first trip to the continent by Pros for Africa, which was founded in 2009 by a group with Oklahoma connections: Williams and fellow former Sooners Tommie Harris, Mark Clayton and Adrian Peterson, along with area attorney Reggie Whitten (who spearheaded the project) and others. It also wasn't the first OU-centric joint operation; a similar group founded Pros 4 Vets.

And it won't be the last philanthropic effort for Williams, neither during his career nor after it.

On FATE: "There's a need, one especially in Oklahoma, with addiction and substance abuse. … It's growing like wildfire."

On Pros 4 Vets and Pros for Africa: "There are always going to be our vets coming back with post-traumatic [stress disorder], and there's always going to be issues that they're going to be facing. And there's always going to be a need in Africa."

Hey, sometimes it's hard to break childhood habits.