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Darryl Williams’ legacy of love lives on

Darryl Williams’ legacy of love lives on

By Joe Fitzgerald  |   Monday, March 28, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Columnists

He was one of this city’s noblest sons, rising above the bitterness that could have further paralyzed him during the 31 years he lived as a quadriplegic after a sniper randomly shot him from a rooftop in Charlestown.

Darryl Williams was a 15-year-old wide receiver that September afternoon in 1979, playing for Jamaica Plain High School. After making a spectacular catch to end the first half, he stood on the sidelines, awaiting the third quarter.

“Coach (Tom) Richardson had just told me how thrilled he was with the way I was playing,” he once recalled. “I felt like I owned the world . . . and then everything went dark.”

When doctors told him of the devastating nature of his injury, “I cried mightily,” he later admitted.

But with the passage of time came a remarkable acceptance.

“I began to see a bigger picture,” he said. “After meeting so many able-bodied people who appeared miserable, I came to look at my injury as a badge of courage from God, as if He must have thought I could deal with this better than they could.”

He became a gifted motivational speaker, employing a very special prop. Twelve years after the shooting, his neurologist had removed the bullet from his neck, hoping it might give him a bit more range of motion.

“He asked if I wanted to see it,” Darryl recalled. “As I looked at this twisted piece of metal, I realized it didn’t get there by itself; it had to be put there by a warped mind. So it wasn’t just the bullet that hurt me; it was also the attitude that fired the bullet.”

To see him make that point to a spellbound audience of tough young kids was to believe, as he did, that even tragic things happen for a reason.

That’s what he told a gathering at Franklin Field during a time of heightened tensions as bloodshed gripped the city.

“It bothers me we’re still trying to get rid of violence all these years after a bullet put me into this chair,” he said. “Ignorance aimed a weapon in my direction and hatred pulled the trigger. The bullet that hurt me is useless now; it can’t hurt anyone else.

“But the ignorance and hatred that shot it into me are alive and well, waiting for you, just like they were waiting for me when I was your age.

“I’m here because I have a love in my heart for all of you, and a hope that you will become my arms, my legs, in carrying the message I bring: ‘Please, let there be peace, and let it begin with me.’ ”

Darryl Williams was 46 when he died a year ago today, and he’s missed more than ever.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/view.bg?articleid=1326508

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