JYD: ‘We Love Giving Back to Our Fans’
By Jerome Williams July 25, 2018
Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams was a key member of Power last season, one of the top rebounders in the BIG3 in 2017. He’s on call this summer in case Power needs him, but he has also embraced a new role with the league, running its youth initiative, Young3. With JYD getting ready to return to Toronto, where he was a fan favorite with the Raptors, he filed this diary for BIG3.com:
Before we start talking about how cool it’s been working with kids around the country this summer as part of the Young3 and how great it will be to get back to Toronto this week, I just wanted to give a shout-out to Power captain Corey Maggette.
I tried to tell you guys before the season that he was gonna have a big year. Even though he missed most of last season, I knew he was gonna come back strong. Power is 4-1 and he’s an MVP candidate. Last year would have been a totally different story if we had Corey in the lineup.
I still say “we” even though I haven’t played this season. I’ve been pulling for them all year. Still got my Power jersey. Just in case I have to dust it off! We’ve gotten close to that a couple times, but they have Big Baby and Birdman right now holding it down on the big man front, so we’re good.
And while Power is doing great, I couldn’t be happier about my role with the league’s youth initiative, Young3. I have to say it’s going better than expected. We really have been exploding on the scene in each and every city.
Sellouts are really what our goal was from the beginning, and for five straight cities we’ve done just that. We’ve also added appearances by BIG3 players in every city, which is really huge because the kids get a chance to interact with some of the players. Nate Robinson, Marcus Banks, Corey Maggette, Derrick Byars and Robert Hite are just a few of the guys who have come out. All those guys were at the last event in Miami. And then legends like Nancy Lieberman, Rick Barry and Clyde Drexler have made it. You get Hall of Famers showing up, it’s huge for the kids.
Last week in Miami, because the gym was bigger, we were able to have 200 kids participate in our basketball clinic – a record number for the five clinics we’ve done so far. One of the kids who showed up was a young girl in a wheelchair. It was
our first interaction with someone who was disabled, and it was heartwarming to see that she had a phenomenal time. She took part in the clinic but then she was also picked up by one of the 3-on-3 teams and was able to play in the tournament. That was all because the kids who were there were nice enough to include her. It was great to see the sportsmanship displayed by these kids.
They gave her a chance to shoot in the game — that was probably the highlight for me this year – something you can’t really script. You can’t tell kids what to do, but they made the right call.
Also, just seeing the talent on display at these clinics was fun. The kids range in age from 9-year-olds up to 14-year-olds, and we’ve had some exceptional kids.
One particular kid who was at our Detroit clinic really stood out. We clearly were looking at the next Jason Kidd — he was throwing passes that were just unbelievable! But it was also how he was orchestrating the offense, being able to create plays for his teammates – and looking to do that. We told him we were going to see him in the near future playing on the big stage, because you could see he had talent.
So the next Young3 event takes place in Toronto this week and that’s a big deal for me. Toronto is always going to have a special place in my heart. That was the first place I was traded to, and I really felt like that’s where the Dogg Pound and my whole Junk Yard Dog thing really took off. I was named the Junk Yard Dog in Detroit, but that Dogg Pound in Toronto was really something special!
They truly embraced me, and I will always love the city of Toronto like no other. They gave me an opportunity. Both of my daughters were born in the city of Toronto, so that adds to it. And I had the best days of my career with the Raptors, almost averaging a double-double when I played there. Playing alongside guys like Vince Carter and being coached by Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens was huge for me.
Just as we’ve done in every city this summer, we’ll have an autograph signing for the kids in the arena. Our fan development with Young3 is growing in leaps and bounds. In Detroit a few weeks ago, it was me and Chauncey Billups signing. We’ve got a few guys lined up for this week.
We love giving back to our fans. It doesn’t matter if it’s Thursday with Young3, Friday at the games or any other day of the week. We want to give back and be part of the communities we’re visiting.
What Ice Cube and the BIG3 are doing in the community, giving out tickets and gear, giving kids a chance to shoot on the court, has been phenomenal. Every week gets better and better, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.