Todd Williams, a former Bradenton prep football star who won a national title at Florida State and had brief career in the NFL, was found dead in his Sarasota hotel room Monday. He was 35.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office found Williams’ body just after 11 a.m. at the Sarasota Suites, 7251 N. Tamiami Trail, where he reportedly had lived in recent years.
A sheriff’s office spokesman told the Bradenton Herald there was no sign of foul play and that an autopsy was scheduled.
Williams’ mother told the newspaper her son could not taste anything and had stomach pain for about a month. She advised him to go to the hospital but did not hear from him over the weekend before checking on him Monday.
Williams was raised by his grandmother until she died in 1993, but instead of being placed in a foster home lived on the streets of Bradenton and Miami. However, fulfilling a promise to his grandmother, he returned to Bradenton, got a job to support himself and graduated from Southeast High as one of the best offensive linemen in the state.
At 6-foot-5 and more than 300 pounds, Williams was rated the No. 27 Florida prospect by The Tampa Tribune in 1997 when he was recruited by Coach Bobby Bowden to FSU.
His drive to return to high school earned him a 2003 NCAA Inspiration Award, given to student-athletes who used perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome life-altering situations.
While Williams was at FSU, the Seminoles won the national title in 1999 and he was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team at offensive tackle.
Williams was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL draft and played in eight games before becoming a free agent in 2005. He spent time in other camps, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006, but never played in another regular-season NFL game.
After football, Williams had been working as an instructor at Manatee Y Technical High School.