'My Sister's Keeper': How stepping away from football helped Utah's Joe Williams cope with sister's death


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Joe Williams heard his father’s screams from the next room as his sister lay in death’s grip. But Williams felt paralyzed, strapped down to his bed by shock and emotions.

Nearly a decade later, through the start of a 2016 season in which he emerged as one of the most productive and puzzling running backs in college football, Williams was still having flashbacks – to helping 7-year-old Kylee when she fell out of bed earlier that night, to carrying her to the bathroom, to riding to the hospital where she was pronounced dead of an undiagnosed heart problem.

“That’s where the guilt comes in,” Williams told USA TODAY Sports recently. “Because maybe if I had got out of my bed and maybe I’d held her or she knew I was there, maybe she would’ve woken up. That was the biggest reason of why I blame myself.”

This is the story behind the story of Williams walking away from the University of Utah…

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