NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Williams family dined in the dim lighting, consuming old stories and memories like side dishes with the artistically plated American cuisine.
There was hardly much talk about what brought them all here on a Tuesday night at M. Restaurant and Bar in downtown Nashville. In just two days, the family was going to be huddled together in the NFL draft green room, waiting for the young man they've long called "Greedy" to receive a life-changing announcement.
On Thursday night, Andraez "Greedy" Williams could become the fourth LSU cornerback to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft, joining an elite list of former Tigers that have helped their program stake a claim at the nickname "DBU."
Patrick Peterson was first, selected No. 5 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2011. Morris Claiborne was picked No. 6 by the Dallas Cowboys the year after, and in 2017, the Buffalo Bills drafted Tre'Davious White at No. 27.
Most projections peg Williams as a late first-rounder, and ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had predicted that LSU's third-year sophomore would have been scooped up by the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 29. (On Tuesday, the Chiefs traded their pick to the Seattle Seahawks for defensive end Frank Clark).
First-round draftees in 2018 earned at least $10 million salaries plus signing bonuses that were at least $5 million, according to Forbes. That's life-changing money for the Williamses — a family that moved up through the projects of Shreveport during Greedy's childhood.
They're all here: Greedy's mother, Lakesha; his stepfather, Lonnie Bryant, and birth father, Andre Walker; his older sisters Keandre and Andrea; and his 2-year-old daughter, Khloe.
Well, almost everyone.
His older brother, Rodarius, a cornerback at Oklahoma State, is flying up from Stillwater on Thursday.
It's been too long a journey for any one person to miss it.
"It actually means everything," Lakesha said. "We're all here together."
Perhaps you know their story.
The 2019 NFL Draft is a little more than a week away.
How Lakesha's second son began playing football at the age of 5, which is how Lakesha met Lonnie, the little league coach who helped the family move from the poverty-stricken neighborhoods of Allendale and Cooper Road.
How Greedy then became a member of the heralded Calvary Baptist secondary named the "No Fly Zone," leading the team to state championships in 2013 and 2014.
How the 6-foot-2, 182-pound Williams found early playing time as a redshirt freshman, leading the Southeastern Conference with six interceptions in 2017, then was named one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2018.
Why such an athlete would declare early for the NFL draft and skip out on the Fiesta Bowl, to avoid injury, is hardly a mainstream question anymore.
"We all call him our hero," Lakesha said. "It's just sacrificing that body and things like that. It's been able to get his family in a great position. We're going to support him like we've been doing since he was 5."
The family is holding onto the moments they have with Greedy alone on this hectic trip. Most of the day, he's pulled away for meetings with his agent and potential endorsement sponsors. On Wednesday, Williams spent much of the day with teammate Devin White at NFL community events.
They all know about the first-round predictions. They knew about the mock drafts that had him going to the Chiefs — before Kansas City made a trade Tuesday with the Seahawks. They've seen the write-ups and TV programs. But at this point, "wherever he lands is God's plan," Lakesha said, "and it's going to be a great fit for him."
Greedy Williams played off as if he was shocked at the question: Was the LSU defender the best cornerback available in the NFL draft?
Still, underneath it all, Williams' competitiveness has been made known.
Back on LSU pro day in late March, he played off as if he were shocked at the question of whether he was the best cornerback available in the draft.
"What?" he said twice with a smile. "I played two years at LSU with eight picks. Cornerbacks I'm competing with that's up there with me have got seven ... So, stats don't lie. Like I said, I'm the best. They know I'm the best."
It was likely of little coincidence that seven interceptions just happened to be the career total for Georgia cornrerback Deandre Baker, the player who was chosen over Williams for the Thorpe Award and is predicted by many to be the first cornerback off the draft board.
But the way the draft ought to flow, Kiper said Tuesday, there could be as many as three-to-four cornerbacks selected from pick No. 20, held by the Pittsburgh Steelers, to pick No. 32, held by the Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots.
"You know (Williams is) going to be a pretty good cover guy," said Kiper, who noted that some NFL teams question Williams' physical play and willingness to tackle. "And if he becomes more complete, then you may have a Pro Bowl-caliber corner."
Whoever ends up selecting Williams, the family is still going to fly out from Shreveport to watch his games. Lakesha's only condition is that if it's a northern team, let it be at a stadium with a dome.
"With the 14th pick of the 2018 NFL draft, the New Orleans Saints select Marcus Davenport, defensive end, University of Texas at San Antonio."
For an occasion like this, Williams won't have too much flash in his wardrobe — just a red suit, the color that's been his favorite since he's been able to talk. Whenever his mother shopped for something that involved a color, she said, Williams always picked red.
Perhaps it'll be a future team color.
For now, Williams hasn't had much time to consider it all.
There'll be time for that soon.
"I was asking him, and he said it hasn't hit him yet," Lakesha said. "He said, 'I just want to see you smile, Mom.’ ”