Cary Williams is in his fifth NFL season and first with the Philadelphia Eagles. Williams was a seventh-round draft pick of Tennessee in 2008 and joined the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. He signed a three-year contract with the Eagles this past offseason. Here, he opens up about why it's important to him to be a good father ...
You were raised by a single father, Cary Sr., in the tough Liberty City section of Miami. How would you describe the relationship with your father?
"I think it was huge. I wouldn't be the man I am today without my dad. I was adopted by my cousin, Calvin Golson, as well. He was also a father figure to me. Without those two, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Just having a dad in your life is valuable as a kid. It's good to see a strong, male individual in your life who is trying to get you to go down the right path, trying to get you to not commit the same mistakes that they did. I think growing up in that tough neighborhood kind of brought the bond a little bit closer because we were all we had at that time. If anything were to go down, we could always rely on our father. He would be there to support us. Even when we heard shots fired, he was the one who was telling us to be calm, just making the situation a lot better. The circumstances outside of our house were bad, but within the house it was always a comfortable place to come home to."
How unique was it to be raised in a single-parent home, but by the father instead of the mother?
"I didn't see it as a negative. I knew a lot of guys growing up who didn't have a father. They had their mother and it's difficult for a mother to raise a young man because they don't know what that is. My dad, despite the fact that he didn't do everything right, he instilled hard work and values. He instilled the fact that you can never give up on your dreams no matter what the situation is. The circumstances don't control you. You have to go out and take everything you want. He was always positive talking about everything in life."
Why was your mother not in the picture?
"She was in mental institutes. She was in and out of mental homes. She dealt with drugs and all of that stuff. She might have lived with me for 10 months of my life. That was the longest we ever had with her. It was tough, especially now I think about the situation. She's still not in the best circumstances. I don't have a relationship with her. I can't have a relationship with someone who is a drug addict. I've tried several times. I tried my rookie year in the NFL. I tried recently to provide for her as best I could with the best means I possibly could. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
"My mom is the sweetest person in the world, but there's the time when she goes through her situations and it's tough to deal with. It's a difficult situation. I think about it everyday."
You and your wife, Amanda, have a 4-year-old daughter, Amari. You are able to provide your daughter with everything that you never had. How do you balance the desire to spoil your child with raising her to appreciate what she has?
"We don't baby our daughter. That's one thing my wife and I agreed on. We treat her with respect. We give her every bit of love that we possibly can. I don't think any kid right now understands the value of money (laughs). She's only 4. She understands her mom and dad work hard to have the money we have. It's going to take hard work to get what she wants.
"I try to be a good dad and show her support and that I love her. I tell her, 'Daddy would go to the end of the earth for you,' but you still have to respect what I say, respect your elders, respect adults, be respectful to everybody. It's all a part of the process because we, too, are learning as parents."