Williams Sanders Father of Ex-Lions RB Barry Sanders Dies of Lymphoma

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William Sanders, father of legendary Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders, died on Wednesday of symptoms caused by lymphoma. He was 74 years old.

The elder Sanders was diagnosed with lymphoma back in March and has dealt with the accompanying side-effects of treatment since then. Still, despite everything, William maintained his admirable positivity and spirit through it all.

Always close with his father, Barry spoke fondly of him during his 2004 Hall of Fame Speech. In a particularly memorable sequence, he recalled a bit of advice that his father gave to him after a junior varsity football game in which he didn’t catch punts because he was afraid of dropping them and losing the game.

"He said, 'Son, you can play the game the way it's supposed to be played. Don't be scared to make mistakes,' " Barry Sanders recalled. "'In life you're going to make some mistakes. Even if you wanted to stay in bed all day and avoid the world, that's not the answer, especially in the game of football. You're going to make some mistakes. Go out and play the way you're capable of, the coach has you in there for a reason, he has confidence in you."

The elder Sanders leaves behind 11 children and 16 grandchildren.

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