"I feel it's just the way I was raised. Not having much and not coming from much, I saw my dad go out and work," Willis recently told me. "Despite some of the things he was doing, one of the things my dad told us was that he had to go out and work. He taught us that at a young age -- that if we wanted something, we had to go out and work for it. For me, it was just having that dream of someday getting away and making it out of there and into the pros. I've always wanted to be a professional athlete, whether it was in baseball, basketball, or football -- that was my dream and that was my reality. That was my approach; it had to be more than a dream, and I was always one step closer to reaching my goal."
But as much as Willis has learned to forgive, it's hard to reconcile what he and his brothers and his sister had to go through. Willis would spend summers working at logging camps and in cotton fields to supplement his family's meager income, and that money started draining away as Patrick's father started asking for "loans." Everybody knew where that money was going. That left Willis to act as caretaker for his family, even as he was trying to keep his focus on the dream of life in the NFL. How one small child could grow up and go through such obstacles with such an unstoppable vision boggles the mind, but it certainly makes Willis' amazing focus and productivity on the field easy to understand.