DALLAS - Arkansas' D.J. Williams is the first weekly nominee for the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season. Williams, a junior tight end from Little Rock, Ark., has overcome a childhood dominated by domestic violence to excel in the classroom, the community and on the field.
Ten years ago this month, Vicky Williams took Vanessa, Valerie and D.J. and fled their home in a Dallas suburb. Vicky showed D.J. a map and asked the 11-year-old where he wanted to go. He chose Little Rock, where they lived in a shelter for battered women for several months, but have made a new life.
For the fourth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and be presented with the trophy.
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
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