When Donald Williams II, a martial arts specialist, took the role of witness in Derek Chauvin's murder trial in Minneapolis in March, it had been two years since the fight.
But Williams, a prosecution witness who looked helpless when George Floyd died under Cauvin's knee last May, relied on his fighting power.
Williams was mentally prepared to enter another kind of ring - the court. That was evident in his calm response to controversial questions from Cauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, who tried to expose Williams and other spectators who had called for Cauvin to remove his knee from Floyd's neck like an angry mob.
"You can't paint me that I'm angry," Williams confidently told Nelson of the dramatic change from the early days of the trial.
Witness Donald Williams answers questions during the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis on March 29, 2021.
Donald Williams answers questions during the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis on March 29, 2021. Po Pool TV Court
But that confident response was preceded by months of grief - the pain that still lingers, a year after Floyd's death, says Williams, a Minneapolis resident who has lived his life.
"I don't think most Americans understand this," he said of the trauma he was still experiencing. "They see and hear it, but I don't think they fully understand that the people who were actually involved, the things they had to deal with for the rest of their lives or known for life - you know, a person actually loses his life - that's hard for everyone in the circle.
Williams, 33, said he had endured many sleepless nights being consumed by Floyd's thoughts, as others had seen.
Photo: A police body camera shows attendees including Donald Williams, middle black, as Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to George Floyd's neck in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
A police body camera shows attendees including Donald Williams, middle black, as Derek Chauvin presses his knee against George Floyd's neck in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Minneapolis Police Department / AP file
Witnessing Floyd's murder caused him for the first time in his life to see a healer, with whom he still spoke. In a few months, her therapist was the only person she spoke to about the pain she felt since that day, she said.
He also avoided videos of a man watching and watching on the body of a man arrested by Floyd who was repeatedly played in court during the trial.
It was only during the trial that Williams first heard the sound of his desperate plea on 911 on the day of Floyd's death.
In an emergency call, Williams was heard shouting at the police, "Y'all don't kill them, brother!"
He testified that he "called the police to the police" after Floyd was taken by ambulance and told a 911 dispatcher that he believed he had witnessed the murder.
Without further ado, Floyd's death continues to go unnoticed, affecting various aspects of Williams' health.
Donald Williams in North Minneapolis, Minn May 11, 2021.
Donald Williams in North Minneapolis May 11, 2021. Drew Arrieta / of NBC News
"It affects my financial situation. It affects my children. It affects everything I do," said Williams, who is also a businessman, whose businesses provide landscaping and snow removal services.
The trial itself was, in a sense, proof of his conviction. Nelson, the defense attorney, made repeated attempts to provoke him into a fit of rage.
"That tactic was very shocking to me because trying to paint me like an angry black person and trying to get out of me was very disappointing," Williams said. "But it made me realize that it was a war of attrition and that it was a rival in front of me trying to break me, and I just held myself back because I've been through this before as a Black person."
Congress will not meet Biden's deadline for a bill to change Floyd's police force. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
Williams was at home with his son and daughter while studying Cauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, convicted of murder and second-degree murder. Before testifying, he said, he had talked to his children about the different treatment black people receive from the police, which he said he had discovered and seen growing up in Minneapolis.
They had prayed together before the verdict was announced.
Donald Williams smiles during a press conference after Chavin's conviction, April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis. John Minchillo / AP
"It was fun and I should, I think, be sad at the same time," Williams said. "We're just thankful that this decision was made."
"I wasn't surprised," he added. "But I didn't have much confidence in the system."
Although he has not spoken to any of the residents since last May, Williams said he was aware they were sharing joint pain.
"That's why I hope everyone is doing well and can move forward," he said.
Williams, too, is looking forward to the future.
He had been fishing with his son in Valentine Lake earlier this day on May 25 before going to Cups Foods for a drink and it happened at a very bad time.
After spending a year suffering from trauma, Williams said that on the anniversary of Floyd's death, he could take another step back to the life he had been enjoying.
"Maybe you just have a family again," he said of his plans for the day. "And try fishing because I only went once a year ago."
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Photo: Donald Williams II North Minneapolis, Minn May 11, 2021.
After spending a year suffering from trauma, Williams said he could take another step back to the life he had enjoyed on the anniversary of Floyd's death. Drew Arrieta / of NBC News
Another place for Williams' lost presence is the Northside Boxing Club, a non-profit in Minneapolis where Williams has coached and trained children and adults.
"He trained hard, had a healthy lifestyle, had the right attitude that we try to give to the local youth," said Ryan Burnet, founder of Northside Boxing Club.
Williams has fought professionally for ten years. He tore through his ACL in his last fight in 2019 and is not trained with determination. He has never been to Northside Boxing Club for a year or more, but Burnet said he was always welcome.
“He knows that whenever he wants to pass when he has a home, and we would like to show him the love he needs and deserves,” Burnet said. "The way he would like to be, he will be welcomed. I think he will be an ongoing resource for the gym and youth of Minneapolis."