[Homestead] go ahead, Drew, claim women are at fault ...

Warren F. Smith WarrenSmith at PalmettoBuilders.net
Thu Sep 30 17:16:08 EDT 2004

Read this article from the Augusta Chronicle. I'm not sure if the writer is
glorifying this lifestyle or being sarcastic...

"Dinnertime looks like the buffet line at Western Sizzlin. A smorgasbord is
required to feed the family, and more often than not, the grub runs out
before you get a fork in it.<p>

Phone calls stream in around the clock from the older kids, who want to
vent, check in or just chat. Some conversations last minutes, others go on
for hours.<p>

Screaming matches reign in the evening hours. It's nit-pick stuff that
evolves into all-out brawls. One minute it's the remote, the next it's a
chicken leg, later it's who gets to brush their teeth first.<p>

Welcome home, where discourse is par for the course.<p>

You had your first child, Schron, when you were 15. You had the 11th - the
one you claim will be your last - Harold, when you were 39.<p>

One is a blossoming football player at the University of South Carolina. Two
more are stationed abroad with the U.S. military - one in Iraq and one in
Japan. <p>

Your 17-year-old daughter is expecting. Your 19-year-old daughter has a son
who just turned 1. And another daughter is getting married in a few months
and has informed you that more grandkids are on the way, and you're going to
help take care of them.<p>

Altogether, you have 11 children by four different fathers - and you've
never once worn a wedding ring on your left hand. <p>

This is life for 44-year-old Shirley Williamson and her constantly swelling
throng. They deem it a normal one.<p>

Agree or not, the Williamsons live it, breathe it, sleep it - and then do it
all again in the morning.<p>

"It's a lot to handle," Shirley says, "but I can't imagine life any other
way. The Lord has blessed me. Yes He has."<p>


ONE OF THOSE blessings from above has become a defensive back's

Child No. 6, son No. 4, is South Carolina junior receiver Troy

Secondaries across the South are beginning to find out what Shirley's known
all along.<p>

Troy is some kind of trouble.<p>

In four games this season, Williamson has caught 19 passes for 545 yards and
four touchdowns. He's currently third in the country in yards per game
(136.3) and first in yards per catch among players with more than 10
receptions (28.7).<p>

"I love watching Troy," said Gamecocks linebacker Marcus Lawrence, who
played with Williamson at Silver Bluff. "I think he's one of the most
exciting players in college football right now. He's hot."<p>

Two Saturdays ago, he embarrassed South Florida to the tune of a
school-record 210 yards and three scores.<p>

Of course, none of that is any comparison to some of the shenanigans he
pulled growing up in rural Aiken County.<p>

Like the time he fell out of the back of a moving pickup truck.<p>

Or, when at age 3, Troy was pretending to drive the neighbor's car,
accidentally put it in gear and steered it right into the side of the area
fire station, which was still under construction.<p>

"I had to pay to fix the fire station," Shirley said, still fuming. "And
that man's radiator."<p>

Or a year or so later when he, his brother and cousin were playing a game
and lit a bottle on fire. His brother threw the bottle, which hit Troy and
caught him on fire. Troy ran around the house three times before his uncle
tackled and extinguished him.<p>

The accident left 17 percent of his body burned. His mom said she had to
teach him to walk again.<p>

Yet a few months later, he was trying to put a fire out in the front yard
with his feet. The resulting third-degree burns forced him to tiptoe around
a little while longer.<p>

"Oh, boy," Shirley sighed. "He was a little troublemaker. I had to watch him
all the time. If I didn't, Lord, I knew he was going to be into


A TIME CAME, though, when Troy became too much to handle.<p>

His penchant for skulduggery as a child had him headed down a road of more
serious trouble as a youth.<p>

Shirley said she was alarmed, because that was exactly why she moved the
family to the South from New York's dangerous Jersey suburbs when Troy was

"I wouldn't ever let them go out the house," Shirley said. "I didn't want to
worry about someone hitting them or shooting them. I just left.<p>

"I said I couldn't stay. I wanted to give them a chance."<p>

The chance to find mischief wasn't what she had in mind.<p>

Even as young as 10 or 11, Troy would roam the streets deep into the night
with other area boys.<p>

One of the reasons was so he could emulate his older brother Roy, who was
always out with the group.<p>

"They were real close, the two of them," Shirley said.<p>

They continued to be inseparable until Roy died in a car accident when he
was 14.<p>

Troy, 12 at the time, was arriving at a crossroads in life.<p>

"He could have easily sold drugs and done other things with his life," said
his old college roommate Kenny Irons, who has since transferred to Auburn.
"But he decided to use his talents."<p>

Troy found football and Douglas Bates.<p>

One day, Bates walked into Jackson Middle School, where he was a volunteer
tutor. He looked up and saw Shirley.<p>

She told him Troy had been sent home from school again. It was becoming a
regular thing, his life spiraling beyond her control.<p>

Bates, who was in his mid-20s, had been trying to mentor Roy up until his
death. He asked if he could help with Troy.<p>

She told him to go right ahead.<p>


BATES AND TROY watched a few movies, ate a few slices of pizza, shot hoops,
went to church and got to be pretty good friends. Bates called it a
brotherly relationship.<p>

He said their connection took a different turn when he realized Troy was
still "walking the streets" after they hung out. Bates asked Troy if he
would allow him to enforce a nightly 9 p.m. curfew.<p>

Troy said that would be OK, that he would listen.<p>

"He was a blessing to me," Shirley said. "They say sometimes you need a
village to raise a child. Doug was my village."<p>

Realizing Shirley's vast financial and physical burden of caring for so many
children - and seeing a life without a dominant male figure - Bates offered
to let Troy stay at his house.<p>

"I just want to take you in out of the goodness and kindness of my heart,"
Bates told him. "It'll give you an opportunity to have your life turned

The experiment was a success. He lived with Bates until he left for college.
Since then, Troy's younger brothers - 18-year-old Holly and 13-year-old
Basil - have gone to live with Bates, who is planning to move into another
house soon to give the boys more space.<p>

Bates swells with pride with the knowledge that his positive influenced
helped springboard Troy's enrollment in college.<p>

"I remember Troy's first year at Carolina, he sent me a card," said Bates,
who's now 35. "I'm not even going to lie. It had me crying. He said, 'I
appreciate you for everything you've done for me. Your son, Troy.' "<p>


WHILE TROY CALLS Bates his godfather, he did have some contact with his
birth father, Leroy Stevenson, who lived in  New Jersey.<p>

Stevenson never saw his son play football in person, but cherished each
photo and magazine Williamson was in.<p>

"I showed him a book one time," Shirley said, "and I never got it back. He
showed literally everyone he knew."<p>

On a trip up earlier this year, Stevenson told Troy and Crystal, his natural
daughter, that he had Lou Gehrig's Disease, an incurable ailment that
attacks and slowly debilitates nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.<p>

Stevenson succumbed to the disease in late August, a week before the start
of the Gamecocks' season.<p>

Troy, Crystal and one of Troy's childhood friends, Damion Allen, drove to
Jersey City, N.J., for the funeral.<p>

"It was hard," Crystal said. "I didn't really believe it until I saw it

The trauma was enough to send Crystal, 6 months pregnant, into premature
labor as they drove back to South Carolina.<p>

With his sister in labor and exhausted from the overnight drive, Troy didn't
know what else he could do so he went home to rest and then to football
practice, even though the coaches told him he didn't have to be there.<p>

"He gets off a lot of steam, problems when he runs," Shirley said.<p>

By the time Troy got back to the hospital, his sister had miscarried. But
despite the flurry of tragic events, Williamson has been able to remain

"I could tell then that he was starting to become a man, and he was using
that to go forward and get better," said Gamecocks receiver Kris Clark, who
is Williamson's best friend on the team. "I think he feels like his father
can actually see him play now."<p>


HIS FATHER'S SPORTING a wide smile then. Williamson has absolutely torched
defenses in his first four games this season.<p>

He had 99 yards in a win at Vanderbilt; 131 in the close loss to
third-ranked Georgia; the record-breaking 210 yards in the win over South
Florida; and 105 last week in a 17-7 victory over Troy.<p>

He's already surpassed or met his yardage and touchdown totals from his
first two years.<p>

Williamson's been, well, super.<p>

"He should have an 'S' on his shirt and change in a phone booth based on
what he's done," Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz said.<p>

Holtz and receivers coach Rick Stockstill said an accomplished and complete
receiver has replaced the raw, speedy sprinter that caught 17 passes for 491
yards as a freshman.<p>

"He's really developed and isn't playing on the field with just his track
speed," Irons said.<p>

"Before that's really all he was getting by on. Now he does a lot more as a

He's still plenty fast, though.<p>

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder says he runs about a 4.35 40-yard dash and is even
faster in the 100 and 200 meters.<p>

Quantifying Williamson's fleet feet to college dorms across America is his
96 speed rating on the EA Sports NCAA College Football 2005 video game,
which came out in July.<p>

Twelve receivers were given a rating of 96 or higher, and only two have 90
or better overall ratings - Williamson and Florida State's Craphonso

"I think they made him too fast," Lawrence said, still smarting from a
video-game loss to Williamson the night before.<p>


There's one thing Troy doesn't mind slowing down for - Sundays at home.<p>

He makes a point to get back to Petticoat Junction most Sundays, even if the
Gamecocks are on the road.<p>

He goes to church, washes his clothes, plays with his younger siblings,
rides 4-wheelers and engages in a little touch football.<p>

Sometimes his mom enlists him to help out in the kitchen. Most people don't
know it, but his mom says Troy's chocolate cake is delectable.<p>

"He may not be able to do anything in this life," she said, "but that boy
can bake."<p>

Irons has been home with Troy.<p>

He said the scene is a sight you can't fathom until you see it.<p>

"He was telling me, but I had no idea until I saw it," Irons said. "It was
just crazy."<p>

Behind the insanity is Shirley, smiling.<p>

"Every time I see her I give her a big hug," Irons said. "She's an amazing
lady. She keeps everyone in check.<p>

"I know it's hard for her sometimes, but she's doing it right."<p>

Irons said after just one day at the house he felt like he was another

After all, what's one more?<p>

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