The Chicago Bulls took former Duke star Jay Williams with the second overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft after he shined with the Blue Devils.
Williams played in his rookie season in Chicago but was inconsistent as he battled for time with fellow guard Jamal Crawford. But then his career took a devastating turn and his life almost ended.
On June 19, 2003 Williams crashed his motorcycle on Chicago’s North Side as he wasn’t wearing a helmet. The injuries included a severed nerve in his leg, three dislocated ligaments and a fractured pelvis. He worked hard in rehab to get back onto the court for the Bulls but it never happened.
Now 12 years later, Williams reflected on the night his basketball career ended and his life almost ended via ESPN:
I couldn’t tell you which pole I hit, but the crash sounded like two cars colliding head-on. I couldn’t turn my body completely out of the way, so I ended up clipping my entire left side, which flung me into a horizontal spinning motion parallel to the ground. In those seconds, everything seemed to slow down. While in the air, I remember thinking, You’ve seen this before. You lived this before.
Williams explained in his book “Life Is Not an Accident: A Memoir of Reinvention.” Williams went on to describe more about the incident including this quote that gives you chills as an NBA player threw his career away.
I started crying and pounding my right fist against the grass while screaming, “I threw it all away! I threw it all away! I threw it all away!”
As a 21-year-old, Williams was named to the NBA Rookie All-Second team as he averaged 9.5 points and 4.7 assists per game. He started 54 games out of 75 and detailed how he worked hard prior to the accident to take his game to the next level.
You can read the full article at ESPN.