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Thursday, December 31, 2009


The phone calls caught up with Dr. Death on Thursday, and of all things, he said he was delivering flowers for Valentine's Day.

Knowing that Steve Williams was every bit as fierce and menacing a competitor in football and wrestling as his nickname implied, there was the immediate question of image. How could Dr. Death explain delivering flowers?

"What could hurt me?" Williams asked. "I get to see all the pretty ladies who are getting the flowers."

Williams rose to prominence as a football player and state champion wrestler at Lakewood High School, as an offensive lineman and All-America wrestler at the University of Oklahoma, and as a marquee name in the fickle business of pro wrestling, where stars can drop without notice.

But in September 2003, Williams was introduced to an opponent tougher than any on the mat. He was diagnosed with throat cancer.

He was given six months to live.

"I knew my choice was either to live or to die," Williams said. "I decided I was going to fight. God became my tag-team partner."

Williams began intense radiation treatment, but he was losing the battle. He finally entered the M.D. Anderson Clinic in Houston, where surgeons removed a softball-size tumor from his neck.

After the surgery, Williams couldn't speak. His fight was in the middle rounds. It was time to draw upon every ounce of the tenacity that made him a great athlete.

"When you're as big as I was, you totally controlled what you did," Williams said. "I weighed 250 pounds when I was 12 years old. I've always been a competitor."

He fought his way back and declares he has been cancer-free for three years.

Pete Levine, Williams' football coach at Lakewood, remembered him as a giant.

"Because of his physical presence and his demeanor, he could be frightening if you didn't know him," Levine said. "His battle with cancer was about as harrowing as any battle could get."

Jeff Williams, who also played football at OU, said his younger brother's life changed overnight.

"He was an invincible individual who woke up one day and learned that his life had changed on a dime," Jeff Williams said. "There were times during the process that we weren't sure he was going to make it. I remember being so happy when I got a voice-mail message from him when he could speak again. He wanted to know if he sounded like John Wayne."

Steve Williams gained the "Dr. Death" title when he wore a hockey goalie's mask to protect a broken nose during a wrestling match while at Lakewood. His appearance caused the crowd to begin chanting "Dr. Death."

When he went to college at Oklahoma, the report of his signing a letter of intent claimed that Dr. Death was coming to Oklahoma.

"I had a bad taste for the University of Colorado," Williams explained. "I didn't think my older brother (Jerry Williams) was treated right. I ended up going to the best college in the nation. We went to the Orange Bowl three times, the Fiesta Bowl once and the Sun Bowl once. Who could argue with that?"

His resume includes two Big Eight championships in football, two Big Eight championships in wrestling, a world heavyweight title, two world tag-team titles and an international tag-team title in pro wrestling.

Williams continues his connection with wrestling, mainly in promotional activities.

He has written a book titled "How Dr. Death Became Dr. Life" and ministers to audiences about his fight with cancer and his conversion to Christianity.

"When I was struck with cancer, I lost everything I owned in the fight," he said. "I've moved back here and am reconnecting with people I knew in Denver."

Williams is caring for his 85-year-old mother, Dorothy Williams Young, and his son, Wyndam Williams, who is a student-athlete at Golden High School.

Williams bio
Born: May 14, 1960, Lakewood.

High school: Lakewood, graduated in 1978.

College: Oklahoma, graduated in 1982.

Pro football: USFL, New Jersey Generals, 1982.

Family: Son, Wyndam Williams.

Ambition: Telling his story with his son at his side in the pulpit.



from the denver post

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