Awesome, Judaism, Sports

The Definition of Awesome: Ricky Williams considers converting to Judaism

You can now add NFL running back Ricky Williams to growing list of high-profile, African-American public figures who have recently embraced Judaism.

Here’s the transcripts of a recent Ynetnews.com article which discusses Williams’ newfound appreciation for the Jewish faith:

According to an interview conducted by South Florida radio station, WQAM-560, the 33-year-old running back has recently been learning about the Jewish faith.

Williams began by studying the Jewish alphabet, and is currently interested in the Jewish Shabbat, Judaism’s weekly holy day.

Williams noted that prior to Miami’s final home game of the season, a 34-27 loss to the Detroit Lions on December 26, 2010, he even made an effort to observe the holiness of Shabbat. Asked if he was actually able to fully observe Shabbat that day, Williams responded “to a certain extent.”

“I had to go to the hotel on Saturday, but I didn’t watch television. I opened the Bible and I read.” Prior to the commencement of Shabbat the previous night, Williams says he also used his hot tub as a mikveh.

“In my reading, I read that (Shabbat) starts at sundown on Friday, and that right before sundown, (a Jew) traditionally takes a bath. So I went outside in the hot tub. It wasn’t on, so it was cold. And I jumped in the hot tub and dipped three times.”

Williams began his professional career with the New Orleans Saints, after being drafted fifth overall in 1999. After three seasons with the Saints, the 5-foot-10, 230 pounder from San Diego, California was then traded to Miami, where he has achieved some of his best statistics.

In 2004, Williams prematurely retired from football, after a third drug policy violation. He returned to the Dolphins in 2005, however, and played out that NFL season following a suspension.

During the offseason of that year, Williams again violated the NFL drug policy and was suspended for the entire 2006 season. With the permission of the Dolphins, Williams spent 2006 playing for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, before being reinstated by the NFL.

He has been back with the Dolphins since 2007, and has been attempting to rid himself of a marijuana addiction. Williams closed out the 2010 season with a total of 814 yards and a mere three touchdowns for the Dolphins. The disgruntled running back has reportedly expressed interest in being traded out of Miami in the upcoming offseason.

Until then, Williams remains open-minded as he explores various Jewish customs and laws. According to Williams, his first real Shabbat experience appealed to his inner-spirituality. “When the day shifted from Saturday afternoon to Saturday night, even my thoughts shifted,” he recalled. “There was something very pure about that Saturday.”

This past summer we heard about NBA basketball star Amare Stoudemire, as well as rapper and former protegé of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs Shyne, both reveal their own newfound revelations and appreciations of Judaism. Stoudemire, who plays for the New York Knicks, revealed that he was Jewish from his mother, while Shyne shared his story about his recovery after being spending eight years in prison and embracing Orthodox Judaism, where he underwent the conversion process as well.

After Williams retired 2004, I was quick to demonize him along with the rest of the public as a quitter. But after he came back from his little rendezvous in other parts of the world, I’ve been impressed with Williams and his path back to success. We got an up-and-close look at Williams during one of his first steps when he signed a contract with the Toronto Argonauts for one season before returning to the Miami Dolphins. Besides an unfortunate injury that caused him to miss nine weeks of the season, all-in-all he conducted himself with the behaviour of a model citizen.

Whatever the reasons may be, I’m glad to see someone proudly publicizing the praises of Judaism.

Just nobody tell him that a hot tub doesn’t cut it as a kosher mikveh 😉

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1 thought on “The Definition of Awesome: Ricky Williams considers converting to Judaism”

  1. I am a big Dolphins fan and I love ricky as a player and seeker. One day I hope to invite him over for shabbos (conversion or not)

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