How Artists like Kendrick Lamar Inspire Four-Star Williams to Pursue Life's Goals

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Zion Williams doesn’t just listen to Kendrick Lamar to listen to Kendrick Lamar. It’s much deeper than just pressing play.

“If you go into deeper [lyrical] meanings, sometimes you can genuinely see what that person's like and what they've gone through in life,” Williams said. “It’s a lot of being a Black person and growing up in I wouldn’t say the best living circumstances. I live really good, but it wasn’t always this good.”

One place that Williams has always felt at home is on the football field where the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Lufkin defensive lineman is widely considered one of the top recruits in Texas.

Williams is rated as a four-star recruit and the No. 20 player in Texas for the Class of 2025 by He has offers to play football at some of the top programs in the country, which would get him closer to fulfilling a dream of bettering his family’s life.

“My biggest motivation for football is to get out of Lufkin and get my mom, my brothers and my sisters out of Lufkin,” Williams said. 

That’s where his love for music, and the lyrics behind his favorite artists, really comes into play. It started with Lamar’s 2022 album, “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers,” which was released during his freshman year.

“It was a really big influence and I actually started listening to lyrical music,” Williams said. “‘I was like, wow, this album is really really good, I wonder what he actually means behind what he’s saying.’” 

By analyzing the music and finding the deeper meaning, he has found that he often relates to the struggles that artists face in life. 

The music serves as not only a reminder of the struggles Williams has faced, but the motivation to better his and his family’s situation.

“It’s a lot of why I’m striving to be a better person and striving to do better for myself and my family,” Williams said. “It motivates me because when I step out of the house, I am a representation of who my mom has raised. Being a better person every day shows that I’m maturing and growing as a person.”

He holds himself to a high standard because he wants to keep up his family's reputation and one of the lessons he learned was to treat people with respect no matter what. 

“At the end of the day, I'm protecting my name and my reputation,” Williams said. That's why I'm going to go out of house with a good demeanor and a respectful attitude towards other people regardless of how they treat me.”

Williams’ mom is his biggest support system. His biggest motivation is to create a better life for her and the rest of his family. 

“I love my mama to death,” Williams said. “We butt heads every so often but that’s because we can't see eye to eye with everything. But at the end of the day, that’s still my mama. The goal is to get her out of the house we’re living in right now to some big house out in the country.” 

On the football field, the music reminds him to focus on the little things. He doesn’t always get into the pregame hype music, but it serves as a reminder to hold himself accountable and help his teammates out.

“The little things are what matter to me,” Williams said. “Making a big play in football is important, but what about the other guy next to me? Can he also do the little things right just in case something happens.” 

Williams knows that to be great he needs to focus on the little things all the time. When times get hard or he is having an off game, he remembers that he can always work to get better and that greatness comes with hard work. 

“I’m just constantly repeating the same things over and over to get it down,” Williams said. “Practicing all the little things and making sure I’m tactically sound when it comes to football. At the end of the day, I can watch film and see what I did wrong. You have to strive to be great and you can’t be great if you’re giving up.”

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