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article imageNBA: Jay Williams considered suicide after career-ending accident

By Layne Weiss     Feb 10, 2013 in Sports
Durham - In 2002, Jay Williams was on top of the world. In June, he was selected by the Chicago Bulls as the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft right behind Yao Ming. Less than a year later, the former Duke All-American's career was over.
In June, 2003, Williams took his motorcycle for a ride. He crashed it and broke his leg and pelvis. He was not wearing a helmet and did not have a license for the bike, The New York Times reports.
When news broke of the accident Bulls' general manager John Paxson announced that Williams would likely not play for the 2003-2004 season. He could not confirm this before speaking with doctors and Williams' family, but he said the Bulls' organization was "working under the assumption" that Williams, who had only played one season for the Bulls up to that point, would be out. He never played again.
Williams, a national champion at Duke, lost his dream over a silly accident, but has never opened up until now. After the accident, he was worried he'd never be able to walk again, he revealed in an interview with The NY Times' Greg Bishop.
Next came the ridicule from fans. He'd walk through an airport and hear yells of "Way to screw up your life, Williams!"
Williams is 31-years-old now. He became a retiree at the age of 21. After the accident, he struggled with years of depression. He wouldn't wear shorts or let anyone see the leg that had been broken in the next accident, his left. He took too much medication. He favorite was Oxycontin. He refused to get out of bed. He recalls blowing out the candles for his 22nd in bed cause he was too depressed to get up. He even resented some of his Bulls' teammates whom he believed were in the NBA for the wrong reasons. Jay Williams had drive and ambition. He felt some of his teammates were there for the money. That angered him.
Some nights, maybe most nights, he cried himself to sleep. He thought maybe a change of scenery would help, so he decided to move to New York City. There, he tried to become an agent. It didn't work out too well, and he began to drink heavily.
At Williams' worst point, he really wanted to die. He recounted this time where he was sitting with a pair of scissors in his hand. "I just kept going on my wrist. I wasn't trying to go sideways. I didn't want to be here. At all," he told Greg Bishop.
Jay's mother, Althea, saw her son do that. After that, she slept in his room every night to make sure something like this wouldn't happen again.
Jay lives in Durham, NC now. He is an ESPN Analyst for Men's College Basketball.
He's not sure what would have happened if the scissors were sharper or if his mom hadn't walked in. He might not be here, he revealed.
Complex Mag listed Williams as #25 on its "25 Greatest Sports Careers Ruined By Injuries" list.
Yao Ming, who was selected No. 1 by the Houston Rockets in 2002, the same year Jason Williams was drafted by the Bulls is #21 on Complex's list. He missed all of the 2009-2010 season and played only five games for the 2010-2011 season. He announced his retirement in 2011.
While many including Williams himself have looked at his story as heartbreaking, the former Duke All-American and champion looks at things differently now. "This might sound crazy, but it was the worst decision I ever made and the best thing that ever happened to me," he told The NY Times.
In 2006, Jay Williams attempted a comeback with the New Jersey Nets, but sadly, things just didn't work out. He was hospitalized in 2003 for 3 and a half months, unsure if he could ever walk again. There was even fear he'd have to amputate his leg. He had not played basketball for over 3 years. Jay Williams actually grew up in New Jersey. The Nets (who have since relocated to Brooklyn) were his favorite team to watch. Sure, that moment was bittersweet. He hadn't been on a basketball court in years. He missed that feeling. He had it back, but then it was gone. But he wants to be clear about one thing, "This isn't a pity story."
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