It’s known as one of the worst tragedies in the NBA. Jay Williams had a great career ahead of him. Drafted second overall in the 2002 NBA draft and an NCAA Champion with the Duke Blue Devils, Williams was about to become the new face of the Chicago Bulls franchise, and occupy the previously vacant locker owned by Michael Jordan. Unfortunately, the rookie with so much potential crashed his motorcycle, demolished his leg and never played in the NBA again.
Nearly 10 years after the accident, Williams spoke with Greg Bishop of the New York Times in a powerful piece of literature and reflected on his life before the accident and after.
At his lowest point, Williams did more than consider suicide. “I remember lying in my bed,” he said. “And I’m just tired of being here. I didn’t want to be here anymore. I was so afraid to face people. And I didn’t really know who I was. And I didn’t really want anybody to see me. And I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I didn’t want to talk about it.”
Williams glanced at his mother, Althea Williams, as he recounted the story. He continued: “I mean, to the point where I sat there, and I had this pair of scissors in my hand. I just kept going on my wrist. I wasn’t trying to go sideways. I was going vertical. I didn’t want to be here. At all.”
His mother added: “I came in. I saw it. I slept in the room every day after that.”
“That was the lowest point in my life,” Williams said. “And if I had more time, if the scissors weren’t dull, I think I would have followed through with it. I can’t say for sure. But I was leaning toward that.”
To go from a guy who had it all. A national championship, future face of the Bulls, the fame, fortune and all its glory and then to a guy who made one mistake, one single mistake and may not walk again. A mistake that changed his life forever only to find himself to blame. Being that guy, living with tremendous regret would be hard and nearly impossible for anyone to life with. Fortunately, Williams is able to find peace, move on and live his life.
What rescued him from going in his darkest parts of his life was the one person that’s always been there for him. His mother who still remains an important and close person to William’s life.
Williams now works for ESPN as a college basketball analysts. Not exactly the life he visioned but a good life nonetheless. As a fan of the game, It’s hard not to imagine what could’ve been and all these “what ifs.” However it’s hard to not be happy for him. Happy that he found peace and gratitude in his life.
I honestly suggest reading the whole article by Greg Bishop if you have time to spare. It’s an amazing, magnificent piece and a few paragraphs can’t do justice. As Williams notes in the article, he doesn’t want pity or sympathy as he moved on with his life.