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A family triumph

Jeff Tully

Kyle Williams knows what it’s like to grow up without a father.

There was no dad around to do the things many young boys yearn for

growing up. There was no playing catch in the backyard. No baseball

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games at the ballpark. No father-and-son picnics.

“I have never had a father around in my life,” said Williams, a

talented baseball player at Burroughs High who graduated in June. “He

left when I was very young, so I really don’t remember much about

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him.”

Growing up in what is considered a nontraditional family, one

might think Williams’ story is a sad one.

However, there is nothing tragic about the player’s life.

Despite being without a father, Williams was far from growing up

without positive male role models. He has also benefited from a close

family where love and togetherness is abundant.

“I don’t know what I would do without my family,” Williams said.

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“I think some people take their families for granted. But for me,

I am just grateful I have had people in my life who truly love and

care about me. That has made all the difference in the world.”

With a tremendous amount of guidance and encouragement, Williams

has turned out to be not only an outstanding individual, but an

accomplished baseball player.

Coming off a productive 2003 senior season at Burroughs, Williams

caught the eye of some college coaches. Opting to stay close to his

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home and family, Williams signed with Cal State University L.A. and

will play baseball for the Eagles next season.

“We really don’t have the money in the family to send me to

college, so I was hoping to get some kind of scholarship so I could

play,” Williams said. “And when Cal State L.A. came through and

wanted me to play for them, I can’t tell you how happy I was.”

*

While Burroughs coaches Tom Crowther and Jose Valle helped prepare

Williams for a future in baseball, it was his family that prepared

him for life.

You will not find many families closer than the Williams, which

includes his younger brother Devin -- who is an incoming senior

baseball player at Burroughs -- and his mother Kim.

Raising two boys as a single parent has been difficult for Kim,

who runs the kitchen at Providencia Elementary School. However, Kyle

said no matter how hard his mother works, she has always been there

for him and his brother, whether it’s attending their baseball games

or making sure their uniforms are cleaned and repaired.

“Kimmy Williams is like a second mother to the players on the

Burroughs baseball team,” Crowther said. “She is just the sweetest

person and she is incredibly dedicated to her sons. She is just loved

by everybody on this team.”

His mother’s dedication is not lost on Kyle.

“There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my mother,” he said. “She has

been everything to me. The things that I accomplish are because she

has been there to support me. I know there is nothing she wouldn’t do

for me and my brother.

“She has even done things like take side jobs to earn enough money

for the family. That means so much to me.”

Another important person in Williams’ life was his grandfather

George. With no father around, it was Williams’ grandfather who

helped him develop his love for sports. It was George who took the

time to teach Kyle and Devin the things boys normally learn with

their fathers.

Sadly, George died when Kyle was in middle school.

“I will always remember the times with my grandfather,” Kyle said.

“I will always be grateful for what he taught me and the times we had

together. I really miss him.”

It’s no wonder Williams has turned out to be a talented athlete.

If genes have anything to do with it, he comes from a family of fine

athletes.

On his mother’s side, Williams has three uncles who played

football for Burroughs during the Indians’ glory days in the late

1970s and early 1980s, when the program was one of the best in the

CIF Southern Section.

George Jr., Rick -- and All-Foothill League standout -- and Bo, an

All-CIF star, made the Williams name well known in the city.

Kyle said his uncles were also instrumental in helping him through

the years.

“I have never seen a family as loving and as dedicated to one

another as this family,” Crowther said. “It is just amazing to see

how much they mean to each other.

“You can see it most during the holidays, when all the family

comes together. It is really something to see.”

*

Since he entered the Burroughs baseball program, hard work and a

desire to improve has made Williams one of the Indians’ premier

players the past few years.

However, it was his senior campaign that turned out to be

Williams’ breakout season. Along with a .412 batting average, he also

had 33 hits, eight doubles, one home run, 19 runs batted in, 14

walks and scored 24 runs.

Hitting in the leadoff spot, one of Williams’ best assets was his

ability to get on base. Along with being hit by pitches seven times,

he struck out only five times in 80 at-bats.

On the bases, Williams -- 5 feet 11, 160 pounds -- was a constant

threat. The past two seasons, Williams stole 38 bases in 41 attempts.

Along with his impressive numbers on offense, Williams patrolled

shortstop and scooped up balls like a vacuum cleaner.

“Kyle has some of the best hands I have seen on an infielder,”

Crowther said. “He makes the hard plays look easy, and he makes the

routine plays with ease.

“When a ball is hit anywhere near Kyle, you know he is going to

get there and make the play.”

Williams will join an Eagles’ program that has a reputation of

sending players to larger colleges and the pro ranks.

Last season, CSULA went 23-17 and placed sixth in the California

Collegiate Athletic Assn. with a 19-19 mark.

Williams will have the opportunity to thrive under Eagles’ Coach

John Herbold, a legend at the college level.

Herbold has a 20-year tenure as the program’s head coach and is

the winningest coach in school history. He led CSULA to conference

championships in 1997 and 1998.

Herbold was recently selected to receive the 2004 Lefty Gomez

Award, which he will receive at the American Baseball Coaches

Associations Hall of Fame/Coach of the Year banquet Jan. 3 in San

Antonio.

“It is a great program to be in,” Williams said. “I am very

excited to be playing and will try my best to earn a starting

position with the team.”

Although Williams won’t be playing in Burbank any longer, he will

still manage to stay close to his family.

“My brother will be a catcher on the Burroughs team next season,

so I will still be able to see him play,” he said.

“And my mom has talked to the coach and she will make the uniforms

for our [CSULA] team next season.”

It seems Kyle Williams will never be able to get away from his

family -- and he wouldn’t have it any other way.


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