William Green immediately hugged his grandmother when the Cleveland Browns selected him in the first round of the 2002 NFL draft. Green believed that moment would erase his pain and bitterness.
He watched both of his parents die of AIDS, his father when Green was 12 and his mother about a year later. After their deaths he was separated from his brothers and sisters because nobody in the family could afford to take in five children. He was optimistic that being the first running back drafted that year, and becoming a millionaire after growing up poor, would make him happy.
Green was a flop with the Browns and battled addiction. His struggles led him on a spiritual journey.
Boston College's William Green (1) avoids the tackle of West Virginia's Grant Wiley during Boston College's season opener at Alumni Stadium, in Boston, on Sept. 1, 2001. (AP Photo/William B. Plowman)
Running back William Green #31 of the Cleveland Browns walks on the field before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 10, 2004 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Browns 34-23. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
Running back William Green #31 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball during the game with the Philadelphia Eagles on October 24, 2004 at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Eagles defeated the Browns 34-31 in overtime. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)