Jay Williams was a high school all-American, national player of the year, national champion at Duke, and the No. 2 overall NBA draft selection in 2002. He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls and was on his way to play for the renowned basketball franchise. However, an afternoon in June, 2003 changed everything for Jay. He crashed his motorcycle on a side street on the north side of Chicago and the NBA journey that was about to begin fell short.
For years, Jay struggled with depression. He took a lot of pain medication for too long and even blew out the candles for his 22nd birthday in bed. He spent years in rehabilitation and at his lowest point, he even considered suicide. During recovery, he did physical therapy every day, often twice, for two years. Once he recovered after many years, he tried to return to the NBA and did a tryout with the New Jersey Nets. Later, he joined the Austin Toros in the Development League hoping for an eventual return to the NBA. When that dream to return to the NBA did not happen, he had to search for the next chapter in his life.
The next chapter came with ESPN and ESPNU who saw Jay’s potential as an analyst. ESPN lauded Jay’s initiative for an analyst among ESPN’s youngest and his career goals included becoming the “African-American Matt Lauer.” He now says “I hope people remind me of my accident every day of my life because that means I’m a prime example of somebody who had it and lost everything and may not have gotten it back in the same capacity but still reinvented myself.”
Bio: Jay Williams is currently a very successful college basketball and NBA analyst for ESPN, and host of the ESPN+ sports business platform “The Boardroom.” In 2016, he released his memoir, “Life Is Not An Accident: A Memoir of Reinvention.” He is also a minority stakeholder in The Cabin NYC, a restaurant and bar.
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