Errick Lynne Williams (Ricky) and his twin sister, Cassandra (Cassie), were born on May 21, 1977, in San Diego, California. Their parents, Sandy and Errick, were young and hardly ready for the responsibilities of raising a family. They argued often, sometimes right in front of Ricky and Cassie. The situation became even more tense when the couple gave birth to their third child, Nisey.
Errick and Sandy went through a messy divorce in 1983. They signed the settlement four months after Ricky's sixth birthday. Errick contended that Sandy had been unfaithful. She accused him of abusing the kids. That charge swayed the court in her favor. Sandy was awarded custody of Ricky and his sisters, and Errick was granted only limited visitation rights. Eight months later he was convicted on misdemeanor charges that he mistreated his children. Errick denies his guilt to this day, claiming his former wife lied about his relationship with his kids. It took years, but Ricky began to rebuild his relationship with his father as a teenager. Errick has since remarried, and now has four children with his second wife. Ricky has pledged to help finance their college educations.
Without question, Ricky was affected by his toxic homelife. Even when Errick left and the fighting stopped, the family still had to scrape by. Sandy and her three kids lived in a cramped San Diego apartment. A move to La Mesa, about 15 miles northeast, helped matters, but the kids were sometimes the target of racial taunts. In his new suburban surroundings, Ricky experienced a new kind of frustration. He felt "too black" for his white friends and "too white" for his black friends back in San Diego.
Ricky was an intelligent young man who scored well on standardized tests. This got him into his school's accelerated program, but his inability to control his anger constantly landed him in hot water. He was a bully who picked on smaller kids, and Sandy was told he needed help. Ricky began seeing a counselor at school, but by seventh grade his grades began to drop. When he was removed from the accelerated program and placed back in the mainstream, he lost interest in his studies entirely. His mother met with school officials and they agreed to transfer him to a new junior high and re-enroll him in the accelerated program. The fresh start was exactly what Ricky needed, and his academic career got right back on track.
Ricky entered San Diego's Patrick Henry High School in the fall of 1992. An excellent athlete throughout his childhood, he was now coming into his own on the baseball and football fields. A friend, Chad Patmon, had been instrumental in this process. He showed Ricky how to channel the energy from his pent-up anger into sports. Ricky played football and baseball, ran track, and wrestled for the Patriots. Initially, it appeared his future was brightest on the diamond. An All-State outfielder, he emulated Tony Gwynn of the Padres. As a junior, Ricky batted .331 and stole 31 bases. The following spring he upped his average to .340.
Ricky, a halfback and linebacker, was also the star of the football team. College coaches were most intrigued by his potential as a runner, and the recruiting calls began during his junior year. As a senior, Ricky gained 2,099 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. His postseason honors included being named "Best of the West" by the Long Beach Press-Telegram and Offensive Player of the Year by the San Diego Union-Tribune . Competition to sign Ricky became intense, with Stanford, California and Texas at the top of the list.
In the spring of 1995, the Philadelphia Phillies made Ricky their eighth-round draft pick. He was undecided between a career on the diamond or gridiron, but knew he could sign with the Phillies and still play college football. When Philadelphia offered a $70,000 signing bonus and multi-year contract, Ricky said hello to pro ball and good-bye to minimum-wage jobs at fast-food restaurants. He banked the money, then joined Philadelphia's rookie-level affiliate in Martinsville, Virginia.
For an athlete who had known nothing but success, playing in the minors was an eye-opening experience. Against Appalachian League pitching, Ricky managed a meager .239 average with just 11 RBIs. He took heart, however, that teammate Reggie Taylor-a first-round pick-hit .222. Taylor would go on to make the majors, as would another teammate, pitcher Dave Coggin. << Less Bio