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A Lasting Legacy

Posted Sep 21, 2010

Many current and former Broncos gathered Monday to honor the late Darrent Williams and raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver at an event hosted by Champ Bailey and John Lynch.


GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- More than three years after Darrent Williams' death, John Lynch said he still thinks about his former teammate nearly every day.

Looking over the scene at the 2010 "Savor the Grape for Charity" event at Morton's The Steakhouse in the Denver Tech Center on Monday, the former Bronco safety said he was confident many others feel the same way.

Many of Williams' former teammates and other past and present Broncos gathered to honor Williams and support one of his favorite charities. The event hosted by Lynch and Champ Bailey benefitted the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, including the Darrent Williams Memorial Teen Center.

"Everybody who knew Darrent -- and I think this community got the feel for it -- knows he could light up the room just by walking in," Lynch said. "He had something special about him. That aura that he had when he was with us is still here -- and it's here in this room."

Bailey and Lynch, who is now retired and works as an NFL analyst for FOX, have helped put together the event for two years -- the first came in 2008 -- helping keep Williams' legacy alive and strong.

The guest list included Williams' mother, Rosalind, Broncos alums such as Al Wilson, Billy Thompson and Alfred Williams, and current Broncos Renaldo Hill, Mario Haggan and Demaryius Thomas.

All mingled with the guests who filled the steakhouse for the event, which was emceed by CBS4's Vic Lombardi. Attendees, who bought tickets ranging from $75 to $250, enjoyed fine wine, a strolling dinner buffet, live music and a silent auction that included autographed Bailey and Lynch jerseys and other Broncos memorabilia.

The money raised went to a cause that was very important to Williams.

Williams, who lost his life on New Year's Day 2007, was a Boys & Girls Club child himself. The teen center was erected in his memory -- a place to serve the community, which he so often did as a Bronco.

Lynch said his talks with Williams went beyond the young cornerback's football goals and included his aspirations for giving back to the Denver community. One of those has been met with the opening of the teen center that bears his name.

"We all have our special charities that we're apart of, but this was something that Darrent was involved in," Bailey said. "We're going to do everything in his name as far as we can. I know it's something he would want to do, so anything we can do for him -- in his name -- we're going to do it."

The teen center opened in May 2008, serving as a safe haven for youth to focus on the Boys & Girls Club's three tenants -- academic success, healthy lifestyles and character and citizenship. Teens have the chance to socialize, play board games, pool, ping-pong and video games, work on homework and plan and implement service projects in an environment free of negative influences.

"I just spoke with some folks from the Boys and Girls Club and they talked about what a success the teen center has been and will continue to be," Lynch said. "I think that would make Darrent prouder than anything."

After a one-year hiatus for the event, both Bailey and Lynch said they were happy to be able to gather so many people together to recall Williams' life and focus on the good things he did -- on and off the field -- during his two seasons as a Bronco.

Bailey said events such as the one held Monday are a true testament to that legacy.

"It says a lot about the type of person he was," Bailey said. "It's a shame he's not here to do things like this for himself. We know this is something Darrent would want to do, and we just want to carry it on the best way we can."