Written for The Argo by Morgan Clyburn
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Center hosted a Fireside Chat featuring former NFL Player William Gay. The event was held in the Campus Center Theatre and went from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM. WGSC members and NFL fans alike were given the opportunity to take pictures and receive autographs from Gay, who spoke with the audience about his experiences with domestic violence.
William Gay was an NFL cornerback who played for 11 seasons. After 3 years at the university of Louisville, he was drafted in the 5th round ( 170th overall ) of the NFL draft. Since then, he has played for teams such as the Cardinals, Giants, and most notably the Steelers. In 2009, he won Super Bowl 43 as a member of the Steelers before retiring in 2017.
It is no secret that domestic violence is a serious yet very sensitive topic in society. Many women and men have either been victims or have seen a loved one become a victim of domestic abuse around them. In the case of William Gay, tragedy struck him when he was 8 years old. His mother, Carolyn Hall, was shot 3 times in the back by his stepfather and died as a result of her injuries. Gay noted that the last time he had seen his mother prior to her passing was when she dropped him off at school that same morning.
After his mother’s passing, Gay and his 2 siblings were taken in and raised by his grandmother. Without his mother, Gay’s life began to take a dark turn. When he was twelve years old, his uncle advised him: “If you keep on this path, you will never play football again.” After that moment, Gay resolved to change his life. He never told anyone about his upbringing until his final years in the NFL. Originally, Gay did not want to put his story out there. In his words, “The shot everyone got, that’s what I wanted,” meaning he did not want sympathy or extra chances because of his mother’s tragic death. However, once his career in the NFL ended, Gay decided to become an advocate against domestic violence and use his story as an example.
Those who may be suffering from domestic violence should look at William Gay’s story as inspiration to never quit in the face of adversity. It is important to ask for help and never remain silent in an abusive relationship. Gay’s final message was that everyone’s life has a purpose and that people should never be afraid to stand up against violence.
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