Hall of Fame Feature • Williams Clemson’s First African-American Starter in Baseball • Williams 2016 Game Program Feature
CLEMSON, S.C. — Former Clemson two-sport star and Hall-of-Fame student-athlete Ray Williams passed away Friday morning (July 28, 2023) at his home in Easley, S.C. Williams had fought health issues since May of 2016, a byproduct of a long battle against diabetes. He was 58 years old at the time of his passing.
Williams came to Clemson from Fayetteville, N.C. in the fall of 1982 and became one of the top two-sport athletes in Tiger history. He was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.
After red-shirting his freshman year in both sports, he was a starter on the football team in the fall of 1983 and a starter on the baseball team in the spring of 1984. On the gridiron, he led the 1983 Clemson team that finished 11th in the nation in receiving with 19 catches for 342 yards. In the spring he batted .326, fourth on the Clemson Baseball team.
In four years under Hall of Fame football coach Danny Ford, Williams collected 86 receptions for 1,290 yards and 10 touchdowns between 1983-86. As a kick returner, he set the school career record in just three seasons, gaining 1,353 yards on 66 returns. He was a starting wide receiver for the 1983, 1985 and 1986 seasons. He is one of just six players in Clemson history with at least 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 kickoff returns yards in a career.
In four years as a starting outfielder (1984-87) under Hall of Fame Coach Bill Wilhelm, Williams had 34 career home runs and 70 stolen bases in exactly 200 games. Today, he is still one of just two Clemson players (Mike Couture the other) to have at least 30 home runs and 70 stolen bases in a career.
Ironically, Williams is still sixth in Clemson history in kickoff return yards on the gridiron and sixth in school history in stolen bases on the diamond.
Williams played baseball and football professionally. His baseball stint was with the Seattle Mariners and he played in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns. After his playing career was over he started a 28-year career with the Allstate Insurance Company.
Williams was the recipient of a liver transplant in May of 2016 and soon began a crusade to encourage people to donate organs.
“I want to make a difference and give back this gift of life I have received,” he told Tim Bourret in an article on clemsontigers.com in 2019.
Williams developed a website where the public can still register. The website is https://www.registerme.org/campaign/raywilliams .
Funeral arrangements are pending.