Aug. 26, 2002
Seattle - Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges and Husky football coach Rick Neuheisel announced today that Husky senior tailback Braxton Cleman is the inaugural recipient of the Curtis Williams Endowed Football Scholarship. Cleman is a fifth-year senior from Oroville, Wash., who has rushed for 708 yards and scored six touchdowns during his 28-game Husky career.
The Curtis Williams Endowed Football Scholarship is named for the former Washington safety that died in May at the age of 24. Williams suffered a spinal cord injury during the 2000 season that left him paralyzed below the neck.
At the time of his injury, the University established the Curtis Williams Fund to assist with his long-term care. At the time of his death, approximately $400,000 remained in the fund.
In addition to the endowed scholarship, Hedges announced that some proceeds from the Curtis Williams Fund would be used to establish a trust for his seven-year-old daughter, Kymberly, who lives in Anchorage with her mother, Michelle. Kymberly will also receive a monthly support payment from the trust.
"It was the wishes of the family to create the endowed scholarship for a member of the football team and to establish the trust for Kymberly," Hedges says. "These are wonderful ways to remember Curtis and to forever remember his spirit as a great Husky. This will be a tremendous honor for a player to be named the recipient of this scholarship each season."
"It is a great honor," Cleman says. " I was told Saturday during a team meeting. It is a touching thing for me. C-Dub was a great guy and everyone knows that. To have his name and my name mentioned in the same breath is a great honor. It means a lot to me.
"The whole thing with C-Dub was tough on me, so I want to come out and dedicate this whole year to him. I have his name tattooed on my arm. When I'm having bad times out on the football field I just look at that name and it gets me through the rough times. Just having a scholarship in his name is a great feeling. I'm very privileged."
"Barbara Hedges and I discussed who would be the most deserving player on our ball club to receive this special recognition," Neuheisel says. "I had mentioned that I thought it should be a senior. Someone who had gone through some adversity. Someone who truly understood what it meant to be a student-athlete at the University of Washington, but also truly understood how fortunate he was to be a part of this. The recipient should be the kind of team leader that the younger players in our program would look up to. Having set those as parameters for the recipient, it was a simple choice for me that Braxton Cleman should be the first to have this distinction. This honor."