William Hollis- From Homeless Man to Motivational Speaker

william 21) Tell us a little bit about your background and where you are from?

I grew up in Pontiac, Michigan. My mother was a heroin addict and my father was a member of the bloods . I grew up with ever odd against me, including poverty, family addiction, crime in my family, and a learning disability that left me unable to read until I was 16. Football saved my life and is where I put all my energy into. I played for five division two colleges amid arena football with the determination to play in the NFL. At the beginning of my senior year of college my daughter was born. I had to leave college due to my child’s maternal grandmother getting into a car accident upon leaving the hospital. My child’s mother had to take custody of her siblings and care for my newborn daughter.
2) What effect did your  mother being on drugs have on your social, and personal childhood life?

She fought hard. She was a kid when she had us. She also struggled with past demons, and  the biggest effect was basically never being able to really be a kid. My whole life was dedicated to getting my queen out of Pontiac, Michigan, and showing her the finer things in life, just making her happy and making her smile. I literally felt like I was chasing a clock to save her life. I sacrificed a lot of things to just fight to save her. My life was dedicated to her. I remember sending refund checks to her in college that was supposed to be used for rent. She would call me while I was  in college before games and tell me it’s cold in the house because there was no heat. She would call and tell me she was hungry and these things hurt me a lot, but I had no choice but to continue to play and fight for our life through the game of football.

3) How important was football to your life as an adult? How did it help save your life ?

Football gave me a chance to learn what being a man was all about. It gave me an opportunity to escape the poverty and crime of Pontiac, Michigan. It taught me how to be a man and how to persevere through anything life throws at you. Most importantly it gave me a family and a brotherhood that was everything to me, and it gave me a purpose.

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4) What is the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your life, and each trying situation ?

I’ve learned to work for my purpose and not the money. I realized that God leaves your gifts at the bottom of the stairs and its up to you to walk up those stairs and show the world that gift. It’s also up to you  to appreciate life everyday, because it’s people out here that’s not making it They are dying before they are even men or women, so cherish the people you have on this earth that loves you.
5) What steps did you take to go from being a homeless man, to a paid motivational speaker?

All I did was volunteer and after that I realized that as I spoke, it would start to heal my soul. Eventually I would get asked how much I charged then I was doing like four assembly’s a day. Two weeks later, I was in Saint Joseph hospital speaking to oncology nurses, then to businesses. It was basically God, he turned my pain into my biggest blessing. the feeling I got from seeing people smile and believe was absolutely beautiful I just walked into my season that God had delivered for me.
6) What do you enjoy most about being a speaker, and sharing your story with others?

I love making people believe. I love how I can feel the heart beats in the room. A lot of times in this day and age, people bring speakers in front of people and the people can’t relate. For instance, if you have a kid that grew up in a city like Detroit and you bring a speaker in from Beverly Hills, California, that speaker can’t say anything to those kids from Detroit, but when they tell me I can’t read, my mothers struggling on drugs, or my father is gone, I can relate. When they see me, they see themselves. I enjoy saving the people that are dying inside, because it was a time in my life I was doing the same.

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7) What advice can you give to other young men who have been through, or going through a similar situation as yourself?

To never stop fighting and to never stop believing in the impossible. To know that  coming from where we are from we are going to have to be extraordinary  in everything we do because they don’t expect us to be nothing more then criminals. I tell kids all the time, don’t look down look to the sky, because your dreams live there. They have to live inside their heads just like men do in the penitentiary. It’s sad to say, but some projects are no different other then the fact that they can go outside. Find something you love to do and put your heart and souls into it. Fight for it because your life depend on it.

8) What upcoming projects/ events are you working on now? 

I’m working on my book and also a tour in Atlanta, Georgia with a few big brother programs. I am also working on a new program that I created called”What Does My Mother Mean to Me,” where I speak to the mothers and children at the same time.  I’ll be teaching them the importance of a mother and having them tell me what does there mother mean to them. I’m also speaking at a network marketing party with all the donations going to the Bethany children’s home and a local youth football team called the Reading Raptors, which I am the teams motivational speaker.

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