McCrae Williams fulfilled his dream to play Division 1 Lacrosse as a Goalie when he was recruited to play for Lafayette College. McCrae was incredibly well known for his spectacular game-changing saves until he passed away due to a traumatic head injury resulting not on the field but from a fall in his freshman dorm after attending a lacrosse introduction party.
Instead of summoning emergency help, students strapped a backpack on him (also known as Jansporting or drunkpacking) and put him to bed in the misguided belief it would be helpful. But as the hours passed, McCrae’s brain bled uncontrollably, and by the time help was called, it was too late. Shortly after arriving at a neuro trauma center, it was clear that McCrae was in grave peril. He passed away Sept 12, 2017. Within days, he was taken off life support and his organs were donated to 5 individuals.
It is horribly tragic that an athlete who was so well known for making saves as the last line of defense wasn’t saved by those around him. If 911 were called, McCrae would be with us today. His death was completely avoidable. Students who think that they’re saving their reputation, preserving their playing eligibility or simply afraid to call for help at a time of medical need are taking the lives of others into their hands.
In McCrae’s memory, the McCrae James Williams Foundation has been established with the following mission:
- Advocate the importance of Good Samaritan policies at college institutions and ensure that student-athletes receive the same protection as non-athletes.
- Bring national attention to the dangerous practice of “JanSporting” (also known as Backpacking, DrunkPacking or Turtling).
- Provide scholarships to college-recruited athletes in financial need who also bear McCrae’s same love of the game, passion, dedication, love of friends and community both on and off the field.
Although McCrae’s life was cut tragically short, it was a life well-lived and one full of incredible experiences. The letters in McCrae’s name fully embody who he was.
No matter what McCrae focused his attention on, he did so with a clear and deliberate Mission. He was incredibly goal-oriented and meticulous with his work. He put his all into everything he did.
He felt that having good character was all that truly mattered which is why one of his favorite quotes is “The true test of a person’s character is how they treat the people in their life that they don’t need.”
McCrae had proudly displayed on the back of his lacrosse helmet Psalms 3:6. “I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.” As a goalie, he was the last line of defense, something he carried to his friendships.
You can’t respect others if you don’t respect yourself. McCrae had tremendous self-respect. He was an incredible teammate and fierce with competitors but was often seen helping an opposing player up off the ground or letting an opposing attackman know that he made a good shot or play.
He loved to learn and enjoyed school, especially while at Nobles. Beyond the classroom, McCrae was a student of all things. As a goalie, he studied the technical aspects of the position and, before any game, he would watch highlight videos of his opposing attackmen.
As an artist, he was self taught and loved spending time with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Premier. As a business-minded kid, he spent countless hours developing multiple businesses such as selling and trading for Sideline Swap , private goalie coaching and most recently, creating drone videos for commercial real estate developers and advertisers.
McCrae and his brother Chase started Stick to Your Goals, a community service non-profit, that was focused on distributing used lacrosse gear to underserved youth interested in the sport and the life lessons from it. Since 2008, his annual collections of equipment and uniforms were shipped to Maya Lacrosse in Guatemala for the children who live, work and play in the City Dump.
On family trips, McCrae was an active part of distributing educational materials and sports gear to help those in rural village schools and orphanages around the globe.
McCrae had incredible empathy for those around him. There are so many stories from those who found his ability to listen and his kind words extremely supportive. Whether it was an email, a hug, a handwritten note or just a smile, McCrae had a way of making you feel okay.
“Everyone has their gifts and everyone has their challenges.” This was and has always been his family’s motto of acceptance and empathy.