On New Year's Day, in 2007, Denver Broncos' young, promising cornerback Darrent Williams was shot after getting in his Hummer limousine after hitting up a night club. The murderer was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder and the entire organization mourned over the loss of their talented, opportunistic, young defender.
Fast forward four years—and a ton of controversy—later and, finally, we have a good idea of what the hell happened that night.
It's an amazing read, and worth the pages of commentary: The piece talks about the run-in Brandon Marshall had with the murderer-to-be, the gang that accompanied the killer and why, probably, Williams was killed.
To recap (shallowly), Little Willie (Williams' murderer) and his gang—who dealt cocaine in the eastern area of Denver—had found their attention to be focused on then-rookie Brandon Marshall, who had made quite the scene outside of the night club, after a bouncer (at first) refused to allow Marshall entrance into the club.
After some hours go by on that New Year's Eve, Marshall found himself trying to alleviate the trouble that the gang members had tried to create.
At the end, the problems that Little Willie and his gang had were with Brandon Marshall, not Darrent Williams. An error saved Marshall's life—and took that of Darrent Williams.
And while Williams' death was mourned, Brandon Marshall lived on to have a boat-load of success in the NFL, going on to sign a four-year $47.5 million extension.
The article points out just how easily things could have been flipped in an entirely different direction. Darrent Williams, much like Little Willie, grew up in a rough neighborhood. Both were surrounded by drug gangs, yet it was Williams who worked minimum wage jobs and then went on to play college football and became a professional athlete. The piece beautifully notes that it could have easily been Darrent Williams shooting a gun, elsewhere, killing someone.
But thanks to his hard-working demeanor, he didn't. Which meant Brandon Marshall got to live, despite him being the one who had the run-in with the gang, not Williams.
And the effects were probably reverberating. Since that New Year's Eve in 2007, Brandon Marshall has been involved with constant legal troubles, despite his stellar play. It may be due to the fact that it was essentially his fault that Williams was killed that forced him to undergo anger management, as well as play with a passion to go with his physical ability.
Whatever it was, Darrent Williams saved Brandon Marshall's life, even if unintentionally.
May the dude, four years later, rest in peace.
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