Results / Fixtures
Season Schedule

Archive Search
The News Wire
Betting Zone
Book Store 
News by Email 
Frequently Asked Questions Front
O Brother Williams, where art thou?


Mark Woods

One by one, the kids file by Jerry Williams, each begging a smile or an autograph, or even just to amaze themselves at how he towers above their diminutive frames, his tightly woven dreadlocks only adding to the curiosity value. 

No-one passes through the door of this community initiative ignored or with their aspirations unfulfilled – except perhaps for the star turn himself, who is toiling in the relative backwater of British basketball in the hope that one day, he might accept the acclaim which comes from performing back in his native land on the highest stage the game can offer.

The irony of the situation does not escape the notice of the London Towers swingman. Yet his very motivation for excellence can be attributed to escaping his situation. Growing up in a single-parent home, first in New Jersey, and then in Jacksonville, sport provided the highway to education and a world outside of Florida. 

“My mother told us if we didn’t get a scholarship, then we couldn’t go to college. We were comfortable but not wealthy so we worked hard to make it happen,” he recounts. 

The other constituent of the We in this tale is Rashean Mathis. Back home, it is he who is the true celebrity. A free safety with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, his multi-million dollar salary – along with its ridiculous list of perks – dwarfs the impecunious pay which globetrotters like his elder sibling can pick up in the BBL.

“When we first started in football I was The Man. And I told him that and he proved me wrong and now he’s earning millions,” Williams affirms. 

He does not begrudge the disparity in their lifestyles, the riches accrued on the gridiron abolishing any financial worries for the mother they both adore. At times, the downsides of fame spill over. 

“We do look alike, even down to the dreadlocks, so I often get stopped in Jacksonville and get asked for autographs. It’s crazy, he can’t even go to the shops.”

So, on occasion do the benefits, he smiles. “I have occasionally got a good table in a restaurant because of it.” Yet one senses that there is a part of Williams which not only wishes that he could replicate his brother’s success but also believes he could too.

“Going to his house and seeing how he lives and what he has and what he can do for our mother ... if she needs something than he can write a cheque. I’d love to emulate that.” 

Perhaps he could have done. At his first university, he was recruited initially to play both sports. They made him choose between the one at which he shone and the one he adored. So basketball it was.

“I just left then. After they told me they wanted me to just play football, I called my mother and started looking for another college. If I hadn’t quit, I’d be in the NFL now like my brother. But I just loved basketball. My Mom was good at it too. She got pregnant with me and couldn’t play any more. 

"So what I do, I do it for her too. She always encouraged us. And it was harder when she came to my games but she pointed out all my mistakes. I’m embarrassed to admit she still beat me at one on one even when I was 14.”

Not many folk do that in the BBL, where the reigning Player of the Year has been a major factor in the Towers stunning start to the league campaign.

But how about bigger fields, the NBA even? At age 25, there is still time to ponder an improbable ascent. 

"“That’s the ultimate dream for any basketball player whether they have the skills or not. There are guys I’ve played against, like Kenyon Martin and Steve Francis, who are in the NBA. They have the skills but I have too. It’s just more about being in the right place at the right time.”

Right now, Williams' place is at the Palace.


Copyright Britball. Download is subject to Britball's Terms of Service