Motivational speaker William “King” Hollis learned how to face adversity at an early age, thanks to his heroin-addicted mother and incarcerated father. With over 80 million views on YouTube, the 28-year-old motivates people on platforms all across the world; speaking hope to those who feel like giving up.
Best known for his football speech, ”The Game of Life,” Hollis is the first motivational speaker to perform during Milan Fashion Week in front of 30,000 people. He headlined the premiere of the Plein Sports by Philipp Plein in Milan, Italy.
“They heard my work on YouTube and wanted me to freestyle a live speech for Milan Fashion Week. I came back with $10,000 in literally four minutes on the stage,” Hollis said.
The notable speaker doesn’t write any of his speeches because he talks from his life experiences.
His speeches are known for addressing to the inner queen and king in everyone he engages with. He uses his family life to connect with those who deal with similar trials and draws inspiration from accepting what God put him through.
Hollis’ childhood was a constant battle of trying to save his mother’s life. He never allowed his home life to be discussed at school, for fear of being taken away from his mother.
“I knew at a very young age if I told them about my mom, I always knew I was going to be taken away,” Hollis said.
After graduating from Hamilton High School, Hollis was given a football scholarship to Clark Atlanta University. Even with a football scholarship, Hollis cruised through school.
He couldn’t read until he was 16-years-old and knew that colleges were more how good he could play ball than his inability to read.
“All of them colleges accepted me because I was a hell of a football player. Y’all just don’t understand that athletes, if you can play some ball, nobody worried about that,” Hollis said.
“I just went to class and did the minimum and they knew about my IEP. Some teachers just felt sorry for me,” he adds.
Sadly, a cracked vertebrae shattered Hollis’ hopes of playing professional football.
Categorized as a “Top 25 Defensive Lineman” in the nation and an NFL prospect, Hollis struggled with the thought of suicide after dealing with his injury and a family death. He ended up being homeless, sleeping in the back of his Ford Taurus on his Tuskegee hoodie and working odd jobs to survive.
“I hit rock bottom, and I was homeless in Pennsylvania. I was having suicidal thoughts and had a 45. pistol in my hotel room ready to end my life,” Hollis said. “This lady at the grocery store told me something about a school called Reading Intermediate High School, and I wanted to go give those kids some love.”
Speaking to a group of students at Reading Intermediate High School for $150 became Hollis’ first speaking gig. As he walked out of the school, the superintendent asked him how much did he charge, which became the turning point for his life.
Hollis describes being saved from committing suicide like a phone call from God.
“When he put me into motivation, I was talking to myself. A lot of people struggled with mental health. Sometimes the answers that you need is inside of you,” he said. “I feel like God made me a vessel to every soul that is dying inside.”
Mental health also played a major role in Hollis’ story. He shied away from it at first until he realized that mental illness isn’t just a White people issue. Hollis sees the lack of dialogue regarding mental health as the root of the problem.
For Hollis, mental health should be addressed more in the homes of black families. If not, people will have an expiration date.
“My mother struggled with heroin addiction, but it all started back when her father molested her. There are all these problems in the Black community that we do not address, we are just told to go on,” Hollis said.
“This stuff that is going on right now is a generational thing. This is a black community thing.”
With his daughters in mind, Hollis continues to push on. He now knows the significance of words and how they have the power words to change someone’s life.
“I do this for them project babies so they can look in the mirror and say, ‘I am too.’ I’m never Hollywood, always neighborhood. I’m here to save a generation,” Hollis said.
Even without a college degree, Hollis is a millionaire speaker and believes his legacy is to change the “ni**a mindset to a king mindset.”
Following in the steps with the greats such as Les Brown, Hollis is now working on movies and will be speaking alongside Brown in London.
Spending his life trying to save his mother’s life, Hollis now understands what it means to be a man and is saving lives through the power of his words.
“I’m not that motivator that’s going to tell you, oh, you have greatness in you. I’m going to tell you; it’s going to be painful,” Hollis said. “If you’re not willing to go through pain, not willing to go to fires, you will never be a diamond.”