Former Bucs receiver Mike Williams, 36, dies

“He was a better father than a football player,” says the grandmother of Williams’ 8-year-old daughter.
Mike Williams played for the Bucs from 2010-2013.
Mike Williams played for the Bucs from 2010-2013. [ Times (2010) ]
Published Sept. 12|Updated Sept. 15

TAMPA — Former Bucs receiver Mike Williams, who was injured in a construction accident and removed from life support last week, died Tuesday morning at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Tierney Lyle, the mother of Williams’ 8-year-old daughter Mya, said he was removed from a ventilator last Thursday per his wishes.

“Mike passed away this morning,” Lyle said in a text to the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. Agent Hadley Engelhard also confirmed that Williams, 36, had died.

“We are saddened by the untimely death of Mike Williams, which has left our organization, his former teammates and fans with heavy hearts,” the Bucs said in a statement. “We send our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones as they mourn this tragedy.”

Williams was injured last month at a construction site in Hillsborough County. Lyle, who said Williams was partially paralyzed, saw him at least twice last week with Mya.

“I did see him,” Lyle said last Wednesday. “I talked to him. We cried. It’s like he knew we were there.”

Mya’s grandmother, Traci King, said the past few weeks have been very difficult for their family.

“Mike was a wonderful father,” King said. “He loved Mya unconditionally. They spent a lot of time together. He even named his (Instagram) page MikeMyaJr. Tierney and Mike co-parented very well and remained good friends over the past eight years. This has been an extremely difficult time for Mya, seeing her dad in the hospital. She doesn’t understand why he can’t talk.

“We do attend church on the regular, at Bayside Community Church in Bradenton, and Mya has learned a lot in Bible study so she knows her dad will be with Jesus. She will miss him terribly and it will take some time to heal. But she knows he will always be with her in spirit, she will always be Daddy’s Girl.

“To me, he was a better father than a football player. We will miss him.”

A fourth-round pick out of Syracuse in 2010, Williams burst onto the scene and was an NFL Pepsi Offensive Rookie of the Year finalist.

Williams allowed the Bucs to exceed expectations that season, going 10-6 in only the second year under head coach Raheem Morris with the team narrowly missing the playoffs. Williams led the team in receiving yards (964) and touchdowns (11).

“He was a good athlete,” said Bucs Hall of Fame linebacker Ronde Barber. “You could tell he was something special. He was a good guy to be around. Teammates loved him.

“He was hard to deal with on the field. He was like Keyshawn (Johnson) Light. He was big, wasn’t overly fast but could get by you. He was strong, strong. He had like old man strength. He was a competitor, man. And he was one of those guys that always seemed to be good at whatever he did. Stupid hands. He caught every damn thing. He had a bunch of ‘wow’ moments.

“It’s just a sad thing.”

Williams played only four seasons in Tampa Bay before being traded to his hometown Bills in 2014.

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Williams finished his career spending part of 2016 with the Chiefs in the offseason. Before the NFL, he was a two-sport standout at Riverside High School in Buffalo, then earned a scholarship at Syracuse.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who played with the Bucs from 2010-18, tweeted that Williams “always was a fighter. 4th rd pick to rookie of the year finalist, got new contract, and lived out his dream as an NFL player. One thing for sure he loved his family and for sure that baby girl!! Sending love and prayers to my brother and his family!!”

Williams also had a son, 10-year-old Mike Jr.

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