Both were with Bill at the first mill he worked at in Memphis and then quit their own secure jobs in the spring of 2001 after he decided to start his own lumber company. For months, before there was a plant or a workforce – anything, really – they sat together on his couch to make his dream, which was now their dream, a reality. Will and Cindy are both still with the company.
A production line manager at the plant who, after years of taking drugs and drinking and feeling sorry for himself, turned his life around in his early 40s to become of the most devoted workers you’ll find anywhere. He is one of the first to arrive each day – and one of the last to leave, and getting him to take a day off here and there – forget about a vacation – is almost impossible.
After suffering abuse from one man after another, Regina finally found Sam in her early 30s, and she has been happy ever since. She also possesses a great amount of pride she inherited from her mother, Shirley, always believing in the dignity of hard work instead of abusing government programs like so many others where she grew up.
One of Bill’s players at Manassas who displayed great character in coping with a serious injury in his senior year. Then, after he was kicked out of college in his freshman year for violating the rules, he summoned that character once again in becoming an instructor for Young Life, a non-denominational Christian ministry that helps kids across the country.
A freshman defensive back at Ole Miss was paralyzed as he tried to tackle Vanderbilt fullback Brad Gaines in the first quarter of a game in October of 1989. The whole state of Mississippi soon came together to raise money for Chucky’s medical expenses, showing how much good can take place when people are willing to leave their comfort zones.
The white fullback from a privileged Nashville background that Chucky Mullins had tried to tackle. Gaines was so distraught that he lost his passion for the game; he didn’t even play his senior year. He reached out to Chucky and the two were good friends until Chucky died in May of 1991. Three times a year, Brad makes the long drive to Russellville, Alabama to visit his friend’s grave.
A Manhattan journalist who always wanted to be a mother, she gave up her comfort zone to move back to Tennessee, went through the strenuous adoption process, and became a mother to four girls from Russia and Romania, including Rachael, who Bill coached in basketball. Rachael is now attending the University of Vermont on a lacrosse scholarship.
The founder of FedEx who saw an opportunity that others initially doubted, took a risk anyway and abandoned his comfort zone to make the kind of impact that has changed the world. He also showed great perseverance – not by hope, but by a careful analysis of his plan and the marketplace and a willingness to keep going no matter what obstacles he encountered.
From the time he was a young teen, his dream was to provide both medical and spiritual care to people in need. After earning degrees from Yale Divinity School and Emory Medical School, he opened up his own Church-based health clinic in Memphis, which today is the largest of its type in the country, with 250 employees and 10 full-time physicians.
Sparky, a longtime dean, has been an inspiration for countless students for decades at the University of Mississippi, leading the fight against hazing and meeting with students to abandon the practice of waving the confederate flag at football games. Bill was a student in the late 1980s when he first met Sparky, learning what it takes to be a true leader.
T.O., who played for Bill at Manassas for four years, grew up in a tough neighborhood without a man in his life so it was no wonder that he was afraid to show even the slightest sign of weakness. But Bill showed there was actually strength in being vulnerable and T.O. matured to become one of the team’s leaders. He went on to play running back and receiver at Austin Peay State University.
There are few leaders in sports – or in any walk of life – as inspirational as Davis, the former quarterback at the University of Oklahoma in the 1970s who died two years ago in a plane crash. Bill hadn’t known Steve for very long but his admiration grew each time they talked. His impact on Bill as a leader has remained with him and so many others.
A Memphis city councilman since 2008 and attorney, he is the perfect example of the civility which is sorely missing in our government these days. Strickland, who learned about civility at the University of Memphis Law school – and on the tennis court – makes certain to remain focused on the issues that matter to him regardless of who attacks him.
A lot of the coaches at St George’s didn’t believe in Drew Bishop – they thought he had a problem with authority – but Bill, never one to duck a challenge, gave him a combination of encouragement and some tough love, and it wasn’t long before Bishop became one of the team’s most important players. He is now a wide receiver at the University of Memphis.
Since the day that he arrived at the age of 19, Bradley, an employee at Bill’s lumber company, has worked hard to take one step after another toward his eventual goal of running the whole yard. He perfectly illustrates the process one must undergo to reach a dream. He has also learned that it is more important to be respected than liked.
Dean Grover would never identify himself as a dreamer in the classic sense but he certainly knows how to support and encourage others to follow a path that can lead to great success. He ought to know. Dean Grover endured tough times growing up in India to then make the difficult journey to the United States and earn his PhD in business.
Annette, who works as an associate for Dean Grover, dropped out of the University of Memphis in the 1980s after two years because of financial problems; she had a young boy to raise. But, through Dean Grover’s encouragement, she returned to school a few yea
a former tenant at the Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis where Dr. King was killed in 1968, Jackie continues every day to plead her case that the nearly $10 million allocated for the National Civil Rights Museum should have been used to assist the unwed mothers, abused children, and the homeless in the rundown area. Despite the overwhelming odds, she has never given up her dream.
After losing his mother in 1965 to breast cancer on the very week he graduated from Harvard College, Dr. West became determined to work with other cancer patients. He had to learn how to manage the fear of losing patients. He set up the West Clinic, which introduced new ways to attack breast cancer, and Response Oncology, a private cancer management company.
Dino left his Italian family’s restaurant business as a teenager to become an extremely successful business owner. Yet he ran into a lot of trouble when he took on too many enterprises and made a horrible mistake; when the feds charged him with bank fraud, everything he built fell apart. Yet he was able to pay back the money he owed the bank, and demonstrated amazing perseverance.
Instead of feeling sorry for herself, Katie, whose leg was amputated when she was just 20 months old, learned to keep fighting for what mattered to her and that included playing competitive sports. She wound up being a star basketball player at California State University at Northridge and competing on the United States Paralympic sitting volleyball team.
After serving 14 years in prison for a murder he committed in Michigan, Vic, who works in shipping and receiving at Bill’s plant, has turned his life around. No longer does he have even the slightest tolerance for his former buddies who hang out at the corner and take handouts from the government. “You can work,” he tells them. “There is nothing wrong with you.
He has heard the roar of the crowd in the two major pursuits of his life – football and politics – yet, because of the great foundation that was passed down by his parents, Buddy and Helen, he has never allowed that roar to keep him from upholding the values that he holds dear to him. J.C. played quarterback at the University of Oklahoma and served four terms in Congress
Bill’s first impression of Zach Woods was that the kid didn’t have much class. Zach’s coaches at St. George’s didn’t think too highly of him, either, (he was known for committing late hits) but Bill took on the difficult challenge and instilled in him a sense of responsibility and respect for his teammates. Zach is completing his junior year at West Point.
the offensive line coach at Manassas who cared deeply for his players. When O.C. Brown encountered trouble with his academics, Ray, acting in many ways as O.C.’s father – the real one wasn’t around – welcomed him to live with his wife and children in the suburbs so that he could get the tutoring he needed; O.C. was able to earn a college scholarship.
O.C.’s 72-year-old grandmother who took on the responsibility to provide for him after his mother couldn’t do the job; she had been her food stamps for drugs instead of purchasing food. For years, the money Miss Hayes made as a bus driver – and it wasn’t much – went to O.C. and his four siblings. Aiding her grandkids was where she was needed the most.
A very talented linebacker whose involvement with the wrong crowd landed him in jail for 15 months. Despite other coaches’ resistance, Bill showed grace and gave Chavis, who had a serious problem managing his anger, another chance. Ultimately, Chavis became honest with himself, and put his life back together. He now cares for a young boy and attends a small college in Tennessee.