AJC following up with Greenville football coach after national TV appearance on ‘Extreme Makeover’

Note: Click here to watch the season-ending episode of “Extreme Makeover” featuring Greenville High School football coach Jeremy Williams.

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I missed watching Sunday night’s scheduled version of “Extreme Makeover” featuring Greenville football coach Jeremy Williams on national TV.  I was returning from a family event in Charleston, S.C.

But I knew exactly when it was on. My cell started blowing up with text messages and emails, with most people moved to tears. And I’m talking about a few people I know who don’t cry about anything.

They were touched by the story of the small-town football coach who displays such a wonderful attitude and has a powerful influence on many young people (his players, students, kids) despite being diagnosed with a terminal illness. The AJC has been following the “Jeremy Williams story” since the fall (see the links below), and we’ll be in Greenville, Ga., on Monday to follow up on the coach’s national TV debut, along with updates on his condition.

Somebody asked me while sitting on a boat dock on Sunday whether or not I still enjoyed my job — after writing and doing something journalism-related for 25 years. And if I enjoyed it, then why? That’s always a probing question for anybody in any occupation.

“Yes, I enjoy my job. Why? Because I get to tell people’s stories.”

Few people have a story like Jeremy’s … and I appreciate him letting me tell so much of it.

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Follow the Jeremy Williams series in its entirety (click on each link):

Voted as AJC’s Sports Story of Year for 2009: Jeremy Williams remains undefeated, even against fierce illness

Story: Greenville, inspired by coach, tops Pellham in playoffs

Story: Greenville coach a rock — and so’s his wife

Story: Greenville’s season ends with loss in playoffs

Story: Greenville football coach plans to return to sideline

Story: NFL star Michael Oher makes appearance at house renovation for Greenville football coach

39 comments Add your comment

The D

May 16th, 2010
11:59 pm

This story has moved a lot of us to tears. I am so happy they did this for such a deserving family, and man. God Bless Jeremy and his family for the rest of their lives

Bob Morgan

May 16th, 2010
11:59 pm

Sorry I missed it. I am sure it was very good. He is very well deserving of this.


May 17th, 2010
12:21 am

I stopped watching the show a few seasons ago. From what I’ve read about him, he and his family are very deserving of their windfalls. I just hope they don’t fall victim to the small print in whatever contract they’ve signed with ABC over the home. I’ve seen numerous families on the show become saddled with new dept from increased taxes and bloated utility payments. I just hope the best for them.

Amazing Story

May 17th, 2010
3:24 am

I must saw I had been having a bad sunday but when I watched this it not only one brought me to tears but cheered me up. Greenvilles about 20 or so miles away so I knew a few people who knows the family. That is awesome that they get all of their medical paid for and the two children get their colleges paid for along with an amazing house. Some episodes I watched before I questioned the peoples familys genuiness but there is no doubt this particular family deserves it.

LA Dawg

May 17th, 2010
3:28 am

You don’t have Tivo? Lame.


May 17th, 2010
4:05 am

Even Himes Ward was there…Coach Jeremy said..yeah a Ga boy!!!

Very deserving family.


May 17th, 2010
5:12 am

would I support a small tax increase to help pay for this man’s (and his family’s) house in Greenville? Well, show me where to sign the “OK”. No one deserves all this more than this fellow. What he has done for young men (and women) could never be put into dollars. If only our Lord could step in and change his mind about Jeremy and let him live a longer ,fuller life. If not, the Golden Gates are wide open for him and he will be in a much, much better place where he’ll never have to worry about illnesses.


May 17th, 2010
5:28 am

As someone who lost a wife to this disease I will pray for the coach everyday and think about his wife and the family. ALS is a illness that takes over your life and those who care for those who have it. I wish the coach well and keep on fighting.


May 17th, 2010
5:33 am

God Bless Jeremy and his Family & Friends.


May 17th, 2010
6:28 am

The AJC didn’t get the home address right on any article I can find. It is “Pine Mountain Valley”, not Pine Valley (which doesn’t exist there) or Pine Mountain, which is on the other side of the mountain.

Wolverine Fan

May 17th, 2010
7:19 am

I will switch over to CVS….

Donna P.

May 17th, 2010
7:31 am

I feel bad for this coach and his family as my grandmother died from this disease in 1969 at the age of 55. I agree with “truthpaste”, this family will be saddled with a new tax burden and utility bills.


May 17th, 2010
7:38 am

Although I am pleased to see this family receive assistance I am saddened by the fact there are hundreds of families out there who are dealing with the terminal illness of a spouse. For many of them it will mean not only a emotional devastation but a financial one as well. For every family that is helped” there are so much more losing all they have.

How terrible that in this country of prosperity a “illness” can wipe out a lifetime of work.


May 17th, 2010
7:47 am

Great story – watched the show last night. What a positive outlook they all have…Mom is a rock and they are so cute together after being together since middle school. What a blessing to watch and just continue to pray for healing and strength.

Juan Carlos Diego Raul Sanchez

May 17th, 2010
7:58 am

ALS sucks – god bless this family


May 17th, 2010
8:02 am

This was such a moving story, that we started a Facebook group (just last night) to get this made into a movie (http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=119696471396720). Perhaps a percentage of the movie receipts can eventually be funneled to the family. That’s our hope, anyway. It’s the least most of us can do. Families such as the Williams’ family featured on “Extreme Makeover” usually need much more than a new home, but the new home is needed & comes in dire situations. They need far more after the TV lights are gone. Most of us can’t do much, but if this Facebook campaign helps even a little, we’ve done something rather than nothing.


May 17th, 2010
8:05 am

Have been reading about his family from day one..Watched the show and loved it..Prayers that things will be better for them now..Also hoping that what truthpaste said doesn’t happen to them..

@LA Dawg..What’s wrong with not having Tivo? Guess you would think that I’m lame also, as we don’t have tivo, no computer (at home), and we don’t watch DVDs..There are some things in life that are way more important than TV..


May 17th, 2010
8:28 am

For those of you who missed it and have a computer, go to hulu.com. go under TV and then browsse episodes. The episodes of most of the sows on tv are alphabetized. find Extreme Makeover – The HOme Edition. The Williams episode is there to watch. I watch all my shows on Hulu or Fancast when my schedule gets crazy.


May 17th, 2010
9:00 am

Yes, lots of folks are hurting now — my heart goes out to all. But, help whomever, whenever you can. Many of us can help in small ways. An extra hand, an extra dollar. WTG Extreme Makeover! I hope this family can afford the additional costs that go along with the perks.


May 17th, 2010
9:03 am

I watched the show last night and it was AWESOME! I am a single mom and sometimes I can get down and give myself a pitty party but when you hear and watch things like this it gives me a swift kick in the butt to pull up my big girl pants and keep going because my life isn’t that bad. When you see a family such as this one not focus on the bad things but cherish every moment together as a family and have a positive outlook on life it is amazing! God Bless this family and everyone needs to pray hard for a cure for this horrible desease. Thank you Williams Family for making me see what really matters in life!!!

Robert Bertling

May 17th, 2010
9:32 am

I played football with Jeremy at the University of Memphis from 1990-1993. You will not find a better person than Jeremy Williams. His community should be extremely proud of their efforts to help this most deserving family. Jeremy and Jennifer are special people that have always thought of others before themselves and it is refreshing to see their dedication to serving others rewarded.

To Donna P. and Truthpaste, I understand your concerns, but when I went to the reveal in February we were told that the company that provides utilities for their area had agreed to pay their utility bill for ten years. Also, almost $100,000 was raised to purchase a van that would accommodate Jeremy and Jacob. Well, that van ended up being donated so those funds are going pay off more bills. Hopefully that will take care of the tax burden. Jeremy and Jennifer have a lot more folks in their corner than many probably realize that will do whatever they can to help them. God bless the Williams family.


May 17th, 2010
10:10 am

The people of Columbus/Haris County/ Meriwther County and others, joined together to pay off the land mortgage so the Williams’ do not have that worry or burden. The power company is providing several years of free service. CVS has come through for medical bill payoffs and they nw havea handicap accesible vans. There was an incredible amount of food donated and they have enough set up several months to come. the community of Pine Mountain Valley, Harris County in general, Columbus and Greenville, GA and other surrounding communities have banded to gether to make sure this family has what it needs for a long time to come.pouring of love and donations has been amazing and this family, the 4 J’s, even more so. Love them all!


May 17th, 2010
10:30 am

My suggestion to people who want to set up donations..based on how much this family has already received..why not contact a ALS group and find ANOTHER family who needs help? I think the generousity already showered on this family should start a contagious feel to want to help others who don’t have CVS or Extreme Makeover to come to the rescue.


May 17th, 2010
11:22 am

I am originally from Meriwether County and have been following the story of Coach Williams locally since he disclosed that he had ALS. Apparently after he spends a long day coaching, he will often travel long distances to speak in churches and civic clubs about his faith. That faith, in the face of this devastating diagnosis, is the greatest legacy he will leave his family and community. It is why he shows no fear in the face of death.

He already lives quite a distance from Greenville High School (Shaggy is right, his home is in Pine Mountain Valley) so he has that daily commute to deal with on top of everything else. On top of that, he is a very good coach, having revived the football program to its former glory from when Coach Hochstetler was winning championships there 25 years ago. What an inspiration he is.


May 17th, 2010
11:56 am

As loyal AJC subscribers and avid high school sports fans, we’ve been following this story as a family and want to compliment Michael Carvell and the AJC for the outstanding articles on the Williams. The show last night on ABC felt like an answer to many of your reader’s prayers for this family. The real life story is better than any script and I will be thrilled if I am able to become half the man that Jeremy Williams is. Check your cynicism at the door and just enjoy what is happening to/for this family.

archie haygood

May 17th, 2010
12:10 pm

I had read and kept us with Coach Williams throught the year. His family’s story last night did make this 48 year old tear up several times…what a great approach to life, love, family, sports. Had my kids watch to know what is important in life, really importanat and for them to appreciate little blessings in life…faith, family, ability to walk, talk, run, think, play, share, move with ease,etc.
His story impacted many(Nationwide Homes)…I want to thank Extreme Make Over, all coroporate sponsors,etc. and the players, former ones, ahthlets and of course townspeople and volunteers for a wonderful gesture!
wow, whata story on human relations, love, life and attitude
may God continue to bless Caoch Williams and his family!

jesse james

May 17th, 2010
2:26 pm

I still get goose bumps when I hear Lou Gehrig during his famous speech at Yankee Stadium. Well today I feel as if I am the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Even though I don’t know Coach Williams and his family personally, I feel very lucky to get to know them through this program. What an inspiration not only to Greenville, Ga., but the entire country. This country was built by people like Jeremy Williams. You can tell he is so sincere in the morals, the values, and the work ethic that he teaches. Well Coach Williams, you are a great leader and one of the bravest men I know of and I am one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth since I have had the privilege to meet you through this program. God Bless!

Carole Eubanks

May 17th, 2010
6:16 pm

This was the most amazing story. If you did not cry, you are hard hearted. The Williams Family deserve all they received. I hope they will make it into a movie. Good luck to the Williams family.

Voice of Reason

May 17th, 2010
9:22 pm

Two things really stood out to me. The spirit and upbeat attitude of all four members of their family through tough times past, present and I am sure, future. The other thing I am thinking of was the crowd at the end of the show when the limo came driving up. I haven’t watched all of these shows, and not many at all the last year or so, but I don’t ever recall such a huge crowd. To me this is indicative of the way this family is perceived and loved in that area. Let’s face it, it is not exactly a metropolitan area, so that crowd was impressive.
There were so many other impressive things that came through, like the personality of the son even with his disability as well. The wife’s personality was fantastic and the love all around was most evident.
Nationwide Homes and CVS will certainly benefit from their generosity I hope. I was very impressed with the entire show.
I lost a friend to ALS a few years ago. When he was diagnosed, he was given two years. He lived ten, so there is hope that Jeremy will surpass his diagnosis.
Thanks for the stories and the follow up is something I will look forward to.


May 17th, 2010
9:53 pm

This was an awesome story! My entire family watched as this amazing man spoke about this terrible disease. I don’t know this family but I am a wife that has had to deal with a similar situation, and I was reminded of how a wife/mother can stay strong in the midst of all that is going on around her. This is love, committment, and the power of prayer.

I was elated that Extreme Home Makeover stepped in and made a comfortable living space that is adequately equipped for the members of the Williams Family & His Football Family.

Mr. Williams may have felt like a small town hero, but he should truly be an inspiration to us all. Continue to fight a good fight, the battle is not over.

O’ What a Blessing!


May 17th, 2010
11:22 pm

I guess you agree with Obama that at some point people have enough. I bet you think it’s not fair this family got so much. This family will receive exactly what they deserve, which shouldn’t be based on what someone else thinks is fair or not fair!


May 18th, 2010
2:15 am


Please dont ruin a good story by bringing your political views into such a wonderful story.


May 18th, 2010
3:20 am

This is the most heartfelt and moving story of love, faith, caring in the face of a family deserving what was given and we all were deeply moved. ALS is a devasting and horrible desease. I hope the family gets through this with the help God and wonderful caring people.

Lillian Champion

May 18th, 2010
10:50 pm

I am so grateful that those of us that live in this rural area of Georgia are very caring people, ready
to lend a helping hand to friends and neighbors. The Williams family deserved the love and compassion as well as the material blessings they received. They have been an inspiration to those of us who us have personnaly experienced great tragedy, and health problems. We need to follow Jeremy’s example and live each day with hope and a measure of joy in anticipation of a brighter tomorrow. Attitude and faith has worked wonders for Jeremy and his family…….and also for me.

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