Jerome Williams: Helping Kids Through Basketball
By Craig Ellenport May 25, 2018
Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams has always been a beast on the boards. The name of his game is rebounding, but JYD’s real mission is to lead the league in assists – just not the kind that result in baskets.
Williams retired from the NBA in 2005 after nine seasons. “Everything since then,” he said, “has been centered around charity, NBA appearances, camps and clinics.”
Even his return to professional basketball last year with the BIG3 had a community component to it. On the court, Williams was a force for Power, finishing fifth in the league with 50 rebound and second to Trilogy’s James White in Defensive Player of the Year voting. Off the court, JYD never passed up an opportunity to get involved in youth events the BIG3 organized at each of the 10 stops during the league’s inaugural season.
“I did a number of events last year and it was great to be a part of the inaugural season,” he said. “It was a great year. Every city, we tried to do a little something for the kids.”
Entering Season 2, the BIG3 is doubling down on its commitment to kids with the unveiling of the Young3. A joint venture with adidas, Young3 will host skills clinics and 3-on-3 tournaments for kids in all 10 BIG3 cities during the 2018 season. BIG3 players, along with former NBA and WNBA players, will make appearances. Williams, recognized for the great work he’s done with kids for years, was named president of Young3.
Williams was actually hard at work on Young3 for a good three months before the league publicly introduced the initiative on May 22. BIG3 co-founders Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz had the vision for Young3, and they knew JYD was the right guy to run it.
“Cube and Jeff came to me at the end of last season and they shot the idea to me,” explained Williams. “Time went by and they got a sponsor in adidas. Based on what I know, we can really make this a big thing in the community, and really help communities. Not just come in with an idea, but really do some court refurbishments and give kids something to do during the summer.”
To register for one of the clinics, visit Young3.org. Williams added that local Boys & Girls Clubs are also helping to get the word out in their communities.
“You and I know that during the summertime there’s a lot of idle time for kids,” he said. “Granted there’s a lot of kids out there that already play AAU sports and things like that, but there’s still a large pocket of youths who don’t get to attend camps for whatever reason – whether it’s financial or something else. When you partner with centers like the Boys & Girls Club, this is a haven for kids in low-income situations, and situations where parents are in need of activities for their kids, I felt as though that would be a great partner for the Young3. I’m so glad that they teamed up with us in every city for this tour. We’re going to really help kids in these communities and bring a different vibe.”
The vibe Williams brought to the BIG3 last season was one of passion and intensity. Even though it had been more than 10 years since his last professional action, Williams was as active as anyone in the league. “Still had enough left in the tank to give the BIG3 a nice strong showing in year one,” he said proudly. “Runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year is not a bad thing coming out of retirement.”
Surprisingly, Williams did not get drafted this year. But while his focus is on Young3, he’ll be ready to suit up if called upon.
“The writing isn’t on the wall yet that I won’t be playing,” he said. “Might get picked up by one of these teams. We know, just like the NBA it’s a long season … You gotta be ready to rock and roll. I’m looking forward to anything that happens this year.”
When asked to preview the 2018 season, Williams identified two teams he thinks can challenge Trilogy, the undefeated defending champs.
“The 3-Headed Monsters definitely improved their team adding Reggie Evans as a co-captain,” he said. “Team Power, my former team, is also improved. Those are the teams that I think can give Trilogy a run this year.”
Even though JYD isn’t back for Power, he noted the return of injured captain Corey Maggette as a potential game-changer. Maggette scored 15 points in the BIG3 opener last season, but also suffered an injury that kept him out the rest of the season. Williams thinks that if Maggette hadn’t been injured, we’d be talking about Power as the defending champs.
“I talk to him every week,” said Williams. “This is a warrior. He’s built for this, and he wants nothing more than to get out on the court one more time and show what he can do. I’m pulling for him, he’s my brother. And I think he’s going to come back and show that if we had him healthy last year … we would have won. I think Corey’s going to be a great captain this year for Team Power.”
Just as Williams looks to be a great captain for Young3.