Vanderbilt Law Review

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On February 15, 2019, hundreds of people gathered at the Temple Church in Nashville to celebrate the life and impact of David Williams II. As remembrances were spoken from the pulpit, and as tearful exchanges occurred between friends in the crowd, it was clear that people, communities, institutions, and lives were forever molded by this man—this fearless leader who left us unexpectedly.

In remembering my dear friend David, it is impossible not to think big. Words like “leader,” “trailblazer,” and “revolutionary” may seem diffuse on their own, but they are clear in their description of a man who always thought about the bigger picture, who always put others before himself, who always engaged with the “why” and the “how” that linked everything together—from social justice to our shared history to personal growth.

It may go without saying that David was many different things to many different people: a professor, a mentor, a coach, an advocate, a manager, a friend. He furthered the aspirations of hundreds of student athletes, he drove the success of Vanderbilt Athletics, and he propelled our university toward the equitable and diverse institution that it is today.