Jarvis Williams, at 45; defensive back played for Dolphins and Giants
NEW YORK — Jarvis Williams, a former defensive back for the
A spokeswoman for Putnam Community Medical Center said Mr. Williams passed away shortly before midnight in his hometown of Palatka, Fla. The medical examiner confirmed that the cause of death was an acute asthma attack.
Mr. Williams had started volunteering as a football coach at Interlachen High School in Putnam County earlier this year. Principal Phyllis Criswell said he appeared to be in good shape and perfectly healthy at practice on Tuesday afternoon.
“This has been very hard on our football players,’’ she said. “. . . They have grown to care about Jarvis and were looking forward to their game this Friday. Now they’ll be playing in dedication to him.’’
The team is scheduled to play a scrimmage tomorrow.
Jerome Wilkerson, who had been friends with Mr. Williams since his senior year of high school, said he hoped that Mr. Williams is remembered as a great family man.
“He was always smiling, always laughing,’’ Wilkerson said. “He was a person you loved to be around.’’
Mr. Williams got his start as a safety at the University of Florida and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.
He played with the Dolphins from 1988-1993, joining the New York Giants for his final season in 1994.
Former Gators and Dolphins teammate Louis Oliver remembered Mr. Williams’s famous tackle of University of Miami standout Melvin Bratton in 1986 as “the hit that resonated around the country.’’
Oliver said he has never seen anything like it in football before or since.
Nat Moore, vice president of alumni relations for the Dolphins, called Mr. Williams’s death a tragedy.
“Jarvis Williams . . . was not only a personal friend but a tremendous football player for both the Dolphins and the Gators,’’ Moored said in a statement yesterday. “He dedicated his life to coaching and helping young people, and it’s a real tragedy for him to pass away at such an early age.’’