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Patrick Willis

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To say that former Ole Miss and new San Francisco 49ers’ linebacker Patrick Willis has seen some hard times in his life is a vast understatement.

When Willis was four, his parents divorced. When he was 10, he worked in a cotton field in order to help financially support his family. When he was 16, his high school basketball coach became his legal guardian because his biological father neglected his children and physically abused Patrick’s younger siblings. When he was 21, his youngest brother, Detris, drowned while swimming with friends.

So pardon Patrick Willis if he already feels he can handle the rigors of NFL life. In Willis, San Fran got not only an excellent football player, but also a young man who participates in multiple charities and is an outstanding person.

Willis was a four-year starter at Ole Miss, winning the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker, in his senior season. He was also named SEC Defensive Player of the Year, first team All-SEC, and first team AP All-American. One of the most memorable moments of his collegiate career was lifting an LSU running back clear off the ground and body slamming him to the turf. The play was run repeatedly on sports highlight shows the day after.

Willis was an absolute monster during his rookie year, leading the NFL in tackles with 174. He also won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and looks to be a budding star in the league.

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Information sites on Willis

San Francisco 49ers Official Player Bio: Patrick Willis
Career notes, photos and stats on Patrick Willis can be found at the Official Website of the San Francisco 49ers. Player Profile: Patrick Willis
Find a small profile, game logs, stats and merchandise on Patrick Willis 

Rotoworld Player Page: Patrick Willis has some of the best fantasy reporting and advice on the web. Click on the “Previous News” tab to get current and past information on Patrick Willis for your fantasy football team.  

Patrick Willis Wikipedia Page
Find a comprehensive background on Patrick Willis’s life and football career at

“Patrick Willis: All-American Linebacker”
Check out a video montage of Patrick Willis on


Latest on Willis

Willis was an absolute monster during his rookie year, leading the NFL in tackles with 174. He also won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award and looks to be a budding star in the league.


Digging up Patrick Willis on the web 

Where he fits in: Patrick Willis
Pass on Patrick Willis? The 49ers never considered it.  

Willis’ Iron Will
Check out Patrick Willis’s incredible real life story - straight from his mouth - at

An ability to adapt in the Senior Bowl made Patrick Willis worthy of the 49ers’ top draft selection
Some times it only takes one attribute to make a coach or scout fall in love with a player. In the case of Patrick Willis, it was his ability to adapt at the ’07 Senior Bowl.  

Teams focus less on schemes, more talent
NFL teams can fall into the trap of judging a linebacker by the scheme he played in college, but that’s a bad idea writes’s John Clayton.  

Hardship toughened Willis for NFL’s rigors
In this USA Today article, columnist Chris Colston recounts the hardships that Patrick Willis faced while growing up in Tennessee.


Patrick Says 

On what kind of impact he wanted to make for the 49ers:
"I want to come in here, and whoever is in front of me, I want to push them to be the best they can be, because every day that I step out on to that field, I want to be the best that I can be. If it's good enough for the time the season starts and the coaches think it is, then I would start. But if it's not, then it's just special teams and whatever I have to do to help the team and contribute to the program, I'm all for it."

On the media getting his backstory incorrect:
“I hate when I read stuff like that because it’s crazy. Yeah, I’d help make things, but I wasn’t cooking full meals. All I can say is that I started early, maybe around 9 or 10 being almost like a father figure because my daddy, I usually say he had three personalities.”

On his first job:
“My grandmother got me a job chopping cotton with her and granddaddy. I got $110 a week for chopping weeds around the cotton so it can grow. I have to make that clear because I have read about myself picking cotton, when they quit picking cotton a long time ago.”

On his abusive father:
“You aren’t supposed to wish your father would do drugs but at least on drugs he would just kind of space out and want us out of his hair. That was better though when he would drink because he was abusive and crazy and outrageous.”

On his childhood:
“Growing up we worked our tails off to have our own money, but when your daddy asks you, you give it to him. I think if we could have saved even half of it, how our clothes could have been better or how we could have bought shoes that didn’t bust open when we were playing sports.”