From Thug to Scholar: An Odyssey To Unmask My True Potential

This is a journey through my life where being intelligent and following the didactic spiritual teachings of my parents got me laughed at and teased until I adopted and embraced a thug mentality. I became a prisoner of my mind by seeking to please and to gain acceptance from others.


Chasing a masked lifestyle that was opposed to my God-given potential, I was no different from the millions of people who chase materialistic things, lifestyles, and religions to please their parents, friends, or partners. Most of these people wake up unhappy, unfulfilled, and unable to identify the person reflecting back in their bathroom mirror.

I was that person for many years, but I transformed and this book will inspire you to transform and unmask your true potential. Life lessons and fascinating journeys will be shared to demonstrate how I unmasked and went from a thug to a scholar.

The Author

Thug 2

Dr. James Arthur Williams is an assistant professor in the College of Business at James Madison University. Dr. Williams is a published scholar. He graduated from Park University (BS in Management/CIS), CMU (MS in administration), UOP (DM in Organizational Leadership), and ISU (PhD in Hospitality Management), and played collegiate and professional arena football.

“At the age of 13, I was selling crack and lost my virginity,” Williams said. “By the time I was 17, I had two children.”  Williams said he broke his parents’ hearts and it bothered him that they cried, but not enough to change him at that point.

Williams said that it is important, no matter who you are, to take the mask off and be yourself.
“Thugs are not the only people who wear masks to please others,” Williams said. “There are people who are working professionally and are so unhappy. They live in misery, but they wear that mask.”

Williams said it is a freeing experience to take off the mask and be yourself.  “You have got to give yourself permission to be happy — and that means knowing who you are and what makes you happy,” Williams said.

The military gave Williams a chance to find out who he was, he said.  “I said I don’t care who they are, if they can teach me to be a better person, I wanted it,” Williams said. “I wanted to be the best James Williams I could be. But you know the military isn’t the only option.”

Williams said there is one question to ask yourself.  “Are you doing whatever you are doing because you considered this to be the only way you can survive?” Williams asked. “If you are, then you aren’t walking in your God-given potential.”

Williams asks what is the worse that could happen?  “Death is going to happen, so what are you afraid of,” Williams asks. Williams said it isn’t an easy task, but the work is worth it. He would have the same advice for a person who is in prison. Work hard to change your circumstances. Help is there if you are determined to change your life.

“As I was writing my book, I realized God was there all along to help me,” Williams said.
Williams is married now to LaToya. They have two children, Jay, who is 11 years old, and Jocelyn, who is 5.  He has two older daughters, Jasbriana, who is 16, and Tia, 18.

Williams said he is an active father and works to show his children that he will be there for them.  He will have a book signing today at Olive Chapel Baptist Church in Elm City from noon until 2 p.m.  There will be refreshments and people can ask Williams questions.