Williams is a 1987 graduate of Jacksonville State University, where he played trumpet in the marching band and served as a reporter and features editor for The Chanticleer campus newspaper. He worked for the Columbus Ledger Enquirer for two years before moving to Birmingham. He began working as a police beat reporter for the News in December 1989. After three years he was moved to the business section and remained there until September 2012.
Williams' brother Dwayne, a U.S. Army Major, was killed in the September 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The tragedy tested Roy's faith and he went on to write a memoir of his experience. He also began giving motivational talks to groups based on that period in his life.
Williams and his wife, Patrice, have two children; Naja and Royce.
- Williams, Roy L. (2003) 911 God Help Us - A Journalist's Tale of Faith. 1st Book Library. ISBN 9781410770127