Visiting almost any big Baltimore area high school game and a visitor may hear a familiar voice shout, "C'mon, defense; shut 'em down!" above the chatter of players, spectators and officials. The source: a bespectacled, clean-shaven bald man with an engaging smile, pacing about the gym in worn, black leather boots, sometimes pausing to speak with fans who root for their teams.
A father of three boys and a girl who are adults now, Craig Williams — better known as "Mr. Let Me At Em' " — is the man beneath the t-shirts shouting to fans and players with his unmistakable tenor voice. His eyes might be slowly degrading from glaucoma, but the 57-year-old Easton, Pennsylvania native keeps his vision clear regarding his support of local youth competing in organized competition. Accompanied by his wife, Paulette Williams, who drives him to the games, he brings lemons (once recommended by Luther Vandross) and at least five different shirts, which he changes throughout the contest.
Williams says his sports passion is rooted in watching heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali spar with retired boxer Larry Holmes, one of his cousins. As the boxers sparred and pushed each other at Ali's Deer Lake training facility in the 1970s, Williams picked up a favorite phrase: "We ain't done yet!" Ali would yell this when Holmes turned for the showers, having thought the sparring match had concluded, Williams said.
Craig claims love at first sight upon meeting his wife of 30 years who wooed him to make Baltimore his home in 1988. Craig first started cheerleading when his sons participated in Pop Warner Youth Football at the Fullerton recreation center in 1997. A truck driver until a diagnosis of being legally blind with glaucoma forced his retirement in 2007, Craig continued his fervent support for his sons until they graduated. His enthusiasm for supporting youth in sports burns bright to this day, even as only fifteen percent of his eyesight remains.
Today, Williams still travels to Baltimore area games, but lately has found the lack of funds a growing problem. He hopes a local sponsor may help him continue expressing his undying support for competing teenagers. "When it comes to sports, I'm the whole city," he said. "In fact, I am Baltimore City. Anything to do with sports. It's all about the kids. I don't care if I gotta run out of gas to come look out for you. I'm a'coming."
Sign up for a weekly newsletter highlighting the best photos and video from our staff photojournalists at baltimoresun.com/newsletters.