Jan. 1, 2001
PASADENA, Calif. - Tears rolled down Curtis Williams' cheeks. Several of his Washington teammates had tears in their eyes, too.
Williams, paralyzed in a game accident two months ago, met with the Huskies' squad in their Rose Bowl locker room Monday before they took the field against Purdue.
Some of the players kissed him on the head and some patted his shoulder. Rick Neuheisel and a few of the players whispered into his ear.
"I'm very happy to be here," Williams said in a voice that was barely audible. "It was great to see everyone again. I've missed them."
Williams, a fifth-year senior from Fresno, Calif., suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a game Oct. 28 at Stanford in a helmet-to-helmet hit. He has had spinal-cord surgery and has no voluntary muscle movement.
After he arrived at the Rose Bowl Monday, he asked to be taken to the Huskies' dressing room, something that wasn't on the schedule. He was fitted with his No. 25 Huskies game jersey and sat in a wheelchair as his teammates came up to him one by one.
Since Williams was injured, his teammates have worn his initials, "CW," on their game jerseys.
He then was taken to the press box to watch the game.
Williams, 22, was flown from San Jose, Calif., where he is in a rehabilitation center, to the nearby airport in Burbank, Calif., and then taken to the Rose Bowl by ambulance. He slept most of the flight.
He said he was appreciative of Washington's fans.
"I miss them and I want to thank them for all their support," he said.
Several of Williams' family members, including brother David Williams, 36, of Fresno, flew to the game with the injured player.
"For me, I wanted to get him here because he fought so hard to get his team here," David Williams said. "He's still optimistic he can get something back, but he knows he's not going to get it all back.
"He's coming to peace with things, but I think he's going to be OK."
As he watched from the press box, Curtis Williams was accompanied by a medical team from San Jose.
After the game, he was to be flown back to San Jose.
David Williams said his 5-foot-10 younger brother had lost "30 to 40 pounds" from his 200-pound frame since his injury. He said the family hopes to bring him home in February.
By JIM COUR
AP Sports Writer