October 2, 2006
It may sound like trivial news to some, but recently I was ecstatic when I read the following note in the sports transactions: Nets sign Jay Williams.
That flashed back memories of him performing for the Duke Blue Devils. Who could ever forget some of the incredible performances of Williams, making big shot after big shot. It led him to National Player of the Year honors and a great career.
Then came the horrible motorcycle crash that put the idea of him wearing a basketball uniform in jeopardy. On his way to dinner that night, he lost control of the powerful bike and smashed into a utility pole. He was thrown onto a grassy curb, but the impact severed a main nerve in his left leg, fractured his pelvis and tore three of the four main ligaments in his left knee.
After numerous surgeries and rehabilitation, Williams appears ready to return to the court. His incredible work ethic, sense of pride and ability to battle has made the opportunity come his way.
My friends, Williams has always been a winner on the court. He led Duke to the national title as a sophomore in 2001. He was a two-time All-American under Coach K, and the recipient of the 2002 Naismith and Wooden Awards as Player of the Year.
You have to cheer for someone trying to come back, especially a special young man like Williams. He has been well schooled at home by his mom and dad. Jay Williams is a level-headed young man. You have to admire his courageous effort to get back on the court.
Congratulations to Rod Thorn and Lawrence Frank for giving Williams a chance to come back. He will play behind the likes of Jason Kidd and first-round pick Marcus Williams. This will be a learning process for Williams and the fact that he signed a contract was a special moment.
Williams is a genuine All-American who will make it in life when the uniform comes off for good.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.