BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Former NFL player and Riverside High School standout Mike Williams was put on life support in a Florida hospital this week following a work accident, according to people close to the family.
Williams, 36, started a new job doing electrical work about seven months ago in the Tampa area, a close friend told News 4, but suffered an accident on the job and was hospitalized on Sept. 1. Williams was initially responsive after surgery, the friend said, but was placed in a medically induced coma earlier this week.
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. His NFL career spanned five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills.
“He was just one of the hardest working kids I knew,” said Tony Truilizio, Williams’ former football coach at Riverside High School. “In terms of his athleticism, he was the best student athlete I’ve ever coached. … I’m devastated, I can’t lie to you. I’m sick to my stomach.”
Williams made the NFL’s all-rookie team in 2010, catching 65 passes for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns after the Buccaneers selected him in the fourth round of the draft.
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 last appeared on an NFL roster with the Chiefs during training camp in 2016.
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.
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.
On the basketball court, Williams scored 1,468 points for Riverside teams that went undefeated in Yale Cup play for two full seasons. 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.
Truilizio said his favorite memory of Williams came during a game against Hutch Tech in his junior year of high school. Williams returned the second half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
“It was just amazing to see,” Truilizio said.
Bruce Warrick, a friend from Buffalo who would play basketball with Williams and attend his games at Riverside, called him an inspiration.
“Coming out of Buffalo, we barely get recognition. He put the city on the map, that listen, you can make it anywhere,” Warrick said.
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.
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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.