AFL club Carlton says they will wrap their arms around Zac Williams after the star player revealed that his sister had passed away.
In an emotional Instagram post, Williams said that his sister, Sammy, had lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday and that he was “truly heartbroken”.
It was only at the end of April that Williams went public with Sammy’s terminal diagnosis.
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She had beaten cancer before but in 2021, just days before Christmas, the family was told the cancer had returned.
Then, in April this year, Williams said the diagnosis was “now terminal”.
“We wish more than anything we didn’t have to write this,” he said at the time.
Sammy and her husband shared three children. The family begun raising funds to help support them two months ago with a GoFundMe page that has now raised close to $25,000.
“Truly heartbroken but my beautiful sister Sam passed away yesterday,” Williams said on Wednesday.
“She taught me so many things and showed me the true meaning of strength and love ❤️”
Williams’ former club GWS Giants said: ”Sending our love to you and your family 🧡.”
While Carlton said: “We’re wrapping our arms around and giving all our love to Zac and the Williams family. Vale, Sammy.”
Blues players and Williams’ former teammates from the Giants were also quick to show their support.
“Love ya bro ❤️,” said Geelong gun and former Giant Jeremy Cameron.
While Cameron’s partner Indiana Putra said: “Sending love and strength to you and your family Zac, I’m so sorry ❤️.”
Carlton spiritual leader Sam Docherty, who has also battled cancer, sent a series of love hearts, as did Kellie Finlayson (who is in the middle of a high-profile battle with cancer). Kellie is the wife of Port star Jeremy Finlayson who is a former teammate of Williams from their days at GWS.
For Williams, Sammy was more than just a sister.
He had previously spoken about his relationship with her, saying she was like a mother after they lost their father when Zac was five years old.
He bought a house for his sister and her family after nine years in the AFL system.
“I said ‘go find a house that you want, I’ve saved up my money, I’m ready to buy a family house for you guys’,” Williams told the Ordineroli Speaking podcast in 2021.
“It would’ve been maybe 6-12 months before I finally saw it …. It was ‘holy s***, we finally own a house, our family finally owns something that’s ours’. Growing up, I never thought about owning my own house or owning anything.
“It was one of the best feelings and every time I’m home, my sister will thank me but I tell her that she doesn’t need to thank me. I thank her for the way she’s brought me up and been on my arse when I was playing up.”
At the start of this AFL season, Williams had to deal with the painful personal news that he would not play in 2023.
He ruptured his ACL at training and is now in the middle of his rehabilitation.
At his best, the 28-year-old is a damaging half-back and moved to Carlton at the end of 2020 on a sizeable contract. His time at the Blues has been plagued by injury, however, managing only 23 games in two-and-a-half years.
– With Glenn Valencich
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