By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
"We're keeping our eyes open for signs that we know Jeremy's up there wanting us to live again and to be happy, and we're trying," she says. "We have our really bad days; I think about him every hour of every day, but it's not always sad thoughts. We can laugh about things that he did now, and it feels so good to laugh."
* * *
After Williams' suicide, his parents were confronted with questions and rumors. People asked if it was because of Williams' marriage. Was he on drugs or steroids? Was it the pressure of fighting? Was he working too hard at his gym? Was he depressed?
"The truth is, for us, for several months afterward, that's what we got bombarded with a lot," Richard says. "I understand people want to know, but nobody has those answers.
"We know in our hearts it was a split-second decision," he continues. "For whatever reason, at that time and that place, there was something in his head that was bothering him, and he just couldn't get it out. Everybody wonders why, and to be honest with you, our answers will just be speculation."
One thing they want to make absolutely clear is that Williams was not on drugs, not on steroids, which was proven by the coroner's report, Susan says. (The OC sheriff-coroner's office confirms this to the Weekly.)
Since the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Williams was a professional fighter, steroid rumors are among the first to surface. "Jeremy didn't do steroids; he was against steroids," Richard says. "You could look at how lean he was; you don't look like that when you're on steroids."
Susan says she doesn't think her son's fighting in the IFL contributed to his death, either.
"I was always against [his fighting]. I never liked it when he fought because it just seemed like such a violent sport," she says. "But for the first time, I knew it was right. We knew it was going to be good for his school."
Richard wonders whether he could have done something to change things.
"[Suicide is] the worst way you can lose somebody. There's nothing worse," he says. "It almost would have been easier if your child were involved in an accident. But under these circumstances, you wonder, 'Could I have changed things if I would have said something, if I would have done something?'"
"When [Williams] left [that morning], he said, 'Hey, I'm going to go train Marco [Ruas]'—because Marco was doing his superfight. And me, then, I second-guess, and think I should have said, 'Let me go with you; I'll go watch the training.' You start second-guessing yourself, and it will drive you up a wall," he says.
* * *
Almost a year after Williams' death, Adam Lynn sits on a sunny Aliso Viejo café patio with Chris "Dino" Dinicola, one of Williams' best friends since grade school.
Dinicola has a five-o'-clock shadow, a black pompadour, sleeve tattoos and sunglasses. "With [the one-year anniversary of Williams' death] coming up, you know, everything starts to come back. This whole year has been like a fucking roller coaster," he says.
Lynn, his head shaved bald and dark shades covering his eyes, leans back in his chair. He recalls his emotions on that May night in Chicago. Fighting two weeks after his friend's death wasn't his choice. The team had a contract, he says, but Williams would have wanted him to give his best.
"That night, I'd never been more on for a fight," he says. "I don't want to say [Williams] was channeling through me, but that's what it felt like. You could have put 10 guys in there, and I would have beat every one of them. Especially with Jeremy's parents sitting in the front row."
Chris Dinicola taps his finger heavily, nervously, on the café's steel table. "All [Williams] cared about was if the people around him were happy. If I was going through a hard time, the guy would, seriously, at 1 in the morning, leave his house and come hang out. Keep in mind he would have to do a private lesson at 5 the same morning," he says. "The guy was just unreal—his work ethic, his whole theory on life was really good.
"When you hear that classic line—'Oh, that's the last person I would expect would do that'—well, [Williams] was the last person I would expect to ever do that," Dinicola continues.
"He was always the type of guy who was like, 'Don't worry about me, man; I'm more worried about how you're doing.'"
Dinicola says a lot of people really resented Williams for taking his life, an act that was seen as selfish by some who cared for him. "Every one of us felt angry," he says. "For some of us, it's still like that."
Most of Williams' best friends were aware of the problems he was having in his marriage, Dinicola says, but thought of him as too stable of a person to worry about Williams hurting himself. "I talked to the guy, like, three days before," he says. "I knew he was going through a hard time. It was just one of those things—I don't know."