A Tribute to Jimmy Dean Williams

Jimmy Williams was a star athlete at Tempe High School and Arizona State University. He was a two time Arizona state wrestling champion at THS and a starting linebacker at ASU. We graduated the same year at Tempe High (1981).

I have spent lots of time over the years in the gym, mostly engaged in powerlifting. I have seen myriads of athletes, but none that rivaled Jimmy. As I like to describe him, he was far greater than the sum of his parts. In other words, he wasn't among the biggest, fastest or strongest athletes I have known. He's not in my top five in that regard. However, without question, he was the greatest single athlete I have ever personally seen.

In high school he excelled in wrestling, football, and track where he was a gifted high jumper, shot putter, and discus thrower. He wrestled as a heavyweight and won against much bigger competitors; he simply beat them all. Jimmy could have wrestled at most any major college, if he had chosen to go that route. However, his first love was football--and the Sun Devils were glad to sign him.

I have little doubt that Jimmy would have played in the NFL if it wasn't for the devastating knee injury he suffered later at ASU (followed by a severe injury to his other knee during a short stint with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League).

He was a young man you didn't dare cross. In spite of his physical prowess, Jimmy was a good-natured friend who enjoyed life to the fullest.

Jimmy Williams died suddenly of an undiagnosed heart condition on January 24, 1999 at the age of 36, leaving behind a wife and two children. He was a teacher and coach at Desert Vista High School.

Whenever I talk about the old High School days at THS, the greatness of Jimmy Williams often enters the conversation. Gone from this world in 1999 at the age of 36, but not forgotten.

* Update: In 2023, the Arizona Republic put together the "Top 25 all-time Arizona high school football players who starred at ASU. Jimmy was listed at #21. Here's a screenshot:


The memorial erected at Desert Vista High in Jimmy's honor.

Coach Curtis Cook, a dear friend who was lost to us in 2021.

Memorial in the wrestling room at Desert Vista.

A picture of me with Lee Williams, Jimmy's son. I think Lee was a junior in High School at Desert Vista. (I'm standing up an incline which is why I look so much taller.)

Here is a Link to a PDF of a memorial book that was compiled in Jimmy's memory.

Here is a Link to an audio recording of his memorial service at Arizona Community Church in Tempe, Arizona. This was not a Christian service, per se, but an important tribute of a man created in God's image.

Corrections, comments, additional details? Email me: tb@usa.com.

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