Man, I will not forget Jayson Williams.
Warm, kind and accessible. I first met Williams in 1997, during my time as co-host of Nets Slammin’ Planet, the Nets’ official kids radio show I co-hosted on 620 AM One-on-One Sports here in New York City with Albert King.
Williams, a nine year NBA veteran during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers and the then New Jersey Nets averaged 7.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in his career. He was an All-Star in 1998 and was once the NBA’s leading rebounder.
Williams’ career was cut short after a freak leg accident in-game during the 1999-2000 season.
He would retire and then do light TV work on NBC. He transitioned properly. He was Michael Strahan before the TV personality that Michael Strahan is now.
Williams’ world would change in an instant in 2002. On February 14, 2002, Williams shot his limo driver, Gus Christofi at his Alexandria Township, NJ home while providing a tour that included a look at a shotgun that Williams thought was unloaded. The gun went off in Williams’ hands and killed Christofi and according to reports, Williams wiped the gun off, jumped in his pool and asked one of his friends to get rid of his clothes.
Williams has had other scrapes with the law and has seemed to genuinely turn his life around, which I am proud of him for doing. Now living in Florida, Williams is working and living at Epiphany Rehab drug and alcohol rehab center. According to a recent conversation with Williams, he’s driving and mentoring patients who are looking to do the same. Williams once dealt with alcoholism and would drink “a fifth of moonshine” at the peak of his problems. He found the rehab center Epiphany and spent 30 days there and never left. Williams’ life rebound was the recent subject of a recent 60 Minutes special that detailed the relationship between he and former NBA Eastern Conference rival Charles Oakley.
Although Williams has made mistakes, I choose to believe that he is turning his life around. I also choose to remember him for his charitable work while a player and the way he put a smile on people’s face. Williams was a recent subject of my Scoop B Radio series. Scoop B Radio is a time capsule that highlights some of my best interviews from childhood through adulthood. Give it a listen.