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How LSU RB Josh Williams Bet on Himself and Turned a Risk Into Opportunity

The former hooper, who got coached up by Hakeem Olajuwon in China, bet on himself on the gridiron
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LSU running back Josh Williams is much more than a football player. The former walk-on has never been one to run away from the grind, holding himself to a different standard at any level of competition no matter the sport.

More than a football player has many meanings when it comes to Williams. Whether it’s putting his family and teammates first or even having passions in other areas, the powerful running back is quite the well-rounded individual.

In fact, the game of football wasn’t even Williams’ first love. It was basketball. Despite football being the one he felt his long term potential could be reached in, he wasn’t a slouch on the basketball court either.

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Excelling on the hardwood in middle school and even further, Williams saw his basketball journey take him all over. Not all over the country, but all over the world.

The summer before his freshman year of high school, the LSU power back traveled to China on a trip to showcase his skills alongside many of his then teammates, but that wasn’t the best of it. 

Williams had the chance to be coached up by a few NBA Hall of Famers, a memory in which he recalls to be one of the craziest moments of his life.

“I went to China going into my freshman year of high school and played in five professional games with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler,” Williams said. “We went there for two weeks and De’Aaron Fox came with us. He plays for the Sacramento Kings.”

“There were a bunch of people that came with us. We were there for two weeks and traveled, went to the Great Wall, played at five different arenas and played against high school and professional Chinese teams.”

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Now, naturally the question comes: Why not pursue a career in basketball?

With such a gifted upbringing on the court, having the chance to showcase his skills in a variety of settings didn’t waver his mindset. Williams' focus was to follow in his father’s footsteps and give his all on the gridiron.

“I feel like football has always been my strongest sport,” Williams said. “Even though basketball was my love, football has always been my strongest sport. My dad played professionally so I always wanted to play.”

Williams had a dream of suiting up for the purple and gold. The opportunity to play in Tiger Stadium and showcase his skills, even if it was as a preferred walk-on at the time, was something he couldn’t pass up.

“LSU has always been a dream school of mine. I’ve always looked at LSU and thought I wanted to go there,” Williams said. “It’s just that vibe of seeing LSU when you’re a kid, it’s intoxicating. Regardless of all the stuff I had going on, I believed in myself that I could make it here. So that’s why I made that decision and bet on myself.”

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It was a bet that paid dividends. Quickly after arriving in Baton Rouge, Williams earned a scholarship and significant reps, but it wasn’t as smooth sailing as it sounds. Battling back from a knee injury, COVID and more, his journey had its fair share of turbulence, but his confidence never wavered.

The former hoops star, who played his travel ball on the Adidas Circuit for Team Yes II (2) Success, knew where he wanted his career to go from the start and it’s safe to say it was worth the risk.

Williams, who serves as the Tigers’ main third down back, has become a reliable resource for this program when need be. A safety net for offensive coordinator Mike Denbrocks offense, the former walk-on continues to live out his dream and play with a sense of urgency.

“I feel like I have something to prove,” Williams said. “I have a chip on my shoulder.”