BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Those close to former NFL wide receiver Mike Williams are asking for continued prayers Friday as the Buffalo native fights for his life in a Tampa hospital.

Williams, 36, had been on life support this week after suffering complications from a workplace accident. He was taken off a ventilator Thursday evening but is surviving and remains responsive, according to Tierney Lyle, the mother of Williams’ 8-year-old daughter.

“We need prayer warriors to continue praying and spread the word,” Lyle told WIVB News 4.

Reports that Williams had died circulated in local and national media earlier this week, but sources maintained to WIVB that those reports were false.

Lyle described Williams as a caring person who is always willing to lend a hand.

“He goes hard in everything he does,” she said. “He doesn’t give up easily at all.”

She added that when a friend played one of Williams’ highlight videos in the hospital room, he smiled.

Two people close to Williams said his on-the-job accident was not initially thought to be life-threatening. He was hit in the head with a beam while doing electrical work on Aug. 21, a friend said, but his situation took a turn when his laceration became infected. Williams was hospitalized on Sept. 1 and eventually had to be induced into a coma.

Williams was a two-sport standout at Buffalo’s Riverside High School before attending Syracuse University. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and played five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his hometown Buffalo Bills. He last appeared on an NFL roster with the Chiefs during training camp in 2016, and had been living in Florida prior to the accident. Williams has two children, Mya Williams, 8, and a 10-year-old son, Mike Jr.

“A Buffalo legend,” said Naaman Roosevelt, a high school rival of Williams’ who went on to become University at Buffalo’s all-time leading receiver.

Williams starred in football and basketball for Riverside, making the All-Western New York team in both sports. He was an all-conference selection in football at Syracuse and also had a brief stint on the Syracuse basketball team.

“Mike is the greatest athlete in Buffalo history,” said Domonic Cook, who played AAU basketball with Williams, and matched up against him when UB visited Syracuse in 2017. “I’ve said that to him, and I’ll continue to say it to this day. He could literally do it all. So much raw talent. He didn’t even have to train. It was just natural. My biggest wish is to have seen him really play basketball at Syracuse. There will never be another like Mike Williams from this area.”

Williams made the NFL’s all-rookie team in 2010, catching 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns after the Buccaneers drafted him 101st overall, the highest selection of any player from Buffalo Public Schools.

Williams earned a six-year, $40 million contract extension with the Bucs after compiling 23 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Less than a year later, Williams was traded to the Bills for a sixth-round pick. He was released by his hometown team after catching eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown in 2014. Williams boasts the second-best career receiving yardage (3,089) among NFL players born in Western New York, behind Rob Gronkowski (Amherst), the 42nd overall pick in Williams’ draft class.

Playing in 29 games over three seasons at Syracuse, Williams caught 133 passes for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns, tied for second on the school’s all-time list. He caught a pass in all 28 games he played, the fifth-longest streak in school history. One of four true freshman to play for the Orange in 2006, his 461 yards receiving the most by a Syracuse freshman since 1990. Williams was a second-team All-Big East selection as a sophomore. His nine-game streak with a touchdown reception was the longest in the country that year.

“What he did coming out of Riverside, a City of Buffalo school, doing the amazing things he did, that was something extra special to see,” said Roosevelt, who played five NFL seasons, and was a teammate of Williams’ as a member of the Bills practice squad in 2014. “He is one of the few I can remember making out of a Buffalo school in our era.”

As a high school senior in 2005, Williams had 970 yards receiving and scored 15 touchdowns, earning Harvard Cup offensive player of the year and first-team Class AA All-State accolades. He was rated the No. 10 recruiting prospect in New York by Rivals.com before committing to Syracuse, and became the first Harvard Cup player in a dozen seasons to receive a Division I-A scholarship.

On the basketball court, Williams scored 1,468 points for Riverside teams that went undefeated in Yale Cup play for two full seasons. In Williams’ junior year, the Frontiersmen became the first school in 21 years to win Harvard Cup and Yale Cup titles in this same season. He averaged 26.3 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals as a senior. During his sophomore year of college, Williams walked on the basketball team at Syracuse and appeared in four games, scoring seven points.

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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook, Twitter and Threads. See more of his work here.


Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.