By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
He changed his mind when he realized the DJ had changed the format of his show because of him.
Afterward, McBryant called Rudy V at his home in Arlington, and the DJ continued to counsel him until after 3 a.m. "He told me that the young lady that I was willing to take my life for was not good for me," McBryant says. "He said that all she was concerned about is talking about the situation instead of trying to help."
McBryant took Rudy V's advice. He hasn't made any efforts to reconcile with his fiancée. He laughs at himself as he describes the DJ as "a great man."
"He's like a big brother or a father that I've never had," he says. "Rudy V talked to me like I was one of his own -- as if I was his child."
Step into the living room of Bill and Eliska Williams' ranch-style home in Houston, and one thing is immediately obvious: They adore their son. That's as sure as the black-and-white studio portrait of the man that sits on an easel next to the couple's color TV.
Wearing a black leather jacket, his hands crossed casually at his waist, Rudy V stares confidently at the camera lens. There is just a hint of a smile.
Eliska Williams says it was a Mother's Day gift from her son, Kevyn, and the portrait fits in nicely with the shrine she's already established on her living-room wall. There are at least a dozen images of Kevyn. At 6'4" and 245 pounds, he has his father's height and build and his mother's Creole complexion and features, down to the red hair.
There are also photos of Kevyn's son and daughter, ages 10 and 2. And then there are the Williams' wedding photos. Ask Bill and Eliska Williams how long they've been married, and Bill always says the same thing.
"Go ahead," Eliska says, waiting for her husband to answer the question.
"All of our lives," he says, with a satisfied, solemn smile.
The couple met more than 46 years ago in a Houston nightclub and fell in love. Their affection for each other is obvious today. They haggle a bit over the details of events, but they're constantly finishing each other's sentences or nodding in affirmation when the other speaks.
The year was 1953. Eliska's mother had dressed her up to look older than her 18 years so they could see a band play. She met Bill Williams -- a young man on leave from the Korean War. He drove her home that night and spent the remaining 19 days of his leave at her home.
They were married two years later. The Williamses had wanted a large family, but Eliska had difficulties conceiving. It would take seven years before she became pregnant with Kevyn, her only child.
"He is my miracle child," she says. "Took a lot of prayers to get that boy."
Nothing their son does today surprises Bill and Eliska Williams. They raised him to be an achiever, telling him he could do anything he put his mind to.
Bill and Eliska believed their own message too. Bill says he coached the first integrated Little League game in Texas, which he won. Eliska was the first black PTA president at her son's elementary school. She says it was all about making her son's world a secure place. "We didn't want him to experience any inferiority about his race," she says.
They can't say enough good things about Kevyn. What a great athlete he was. How honest and loyal he was even as a boy, returning money to a store clerk when she gave him too much change. Even with his good looks and popularity -- "And was he ever popular," Mom says -- there was never more than one girlfriend at a time.
Clearly, they idolize him.
"He knows who his God is, I'll tell you that," Bill says. "He realizes what's demanded of him from his God, and that much I really, really like about him more than anything else."
There is only one thing that puzzles them. They cannot understand why Kevyn can't solidify his life with a loving family of his own.
Kevyn married for the first time in 1988, to a childhood schoolmate named Donzella Thomas. A year and a half later, their son was born. Less than a year after that, they had separated. Houston court records show they divorced in March 1991.
Neither Kevyn nor his parents will say much about the first marriage or about Donzella Thomas. Long, painful silences linger in the air when the subject of Kevyn's marriages comes up.
Kevyn says cryptically that his marriage to Donzella Thomas ended because of "a physical incident on her part," something he says he will never recover from and prefers not to discuss. Thomas did not return repeated phone calls for this story.
"That ended kind of tragically," Bill Williams simply says. "It's much more detailed than that. You'd probably start crying yourself if I told you."
The timeline on Kevyn's second marriage is strikingly similar. He met Rhonda McGruder in July 1996. After a one-month courtship, they married. They, too, quickly had a child. Their divorce was final in March 1999.