Former Celtic Ray Williams, who played 23 games for the Celtics during the 1984-’85 season, is now broke and living in a broken-down ’92 Buick. In recent weeks, Williams has survived by eating only bread and drinking only water. (Boston Globe)
Williams, 55 and diabetic, wants the titans of today’s NBA to help take care of him and other retirees who have plenty of time to watch games but no televisions to do so. He needs food, shelter, cash for car repairs, and a job, and he believes the multibillion-dollar league and its players should treat him as if he were a teammate in distress.
One thing Williams especially wants them to know: Unlike many troubled ex-players, he has never fallen prey to drugs, alcohol, or gambling. [...]
Unfortunately for Williams, the NBA-related organizations best suited to help him have closed their checkbooks to him. The NBA Legends Foundation, which awarded him grants totaling more than $10,000 in 1996 and 2004, denied his recent request for help. So did the NBA Retired Players Association, which in the past year gave him two grants totaling $2,000. [...]
Hall of Famer Bob Cousy, who helped create the Legends Foundation and serves as a director, understands the financial pressures squeezing many NBA retirees. Cousy himself auctioned his NBA memorabilia in 2003 to help support his daughters and grandchildren. As for Williams, Cousy said, the Legends Foundation generally limits former players to two financial grants.
“If a client comes back a third time, he needs to make a very compelling case,’’ Cousy said. “Ray just hasn’t done that.’’
The rejections angered Williams. He said he wants to work but needs transportation to reach a workplace.
“I’m in the middle of an emergency, and they’re going to turn their backs on me?’’ he said. “How about all these [NBA] guys with big contracts? Are they going to help?’’ [...]
Broke again, Williams repeatedly tried in vain to hold jobs. Hindered by his diabetes, which was diagnosed three years ago, he lost or walked away from jobs as a cleaner, handyman, high school girls’ basketball coach, bakery worker, and golf course groundskeeper. In 2005, he filed again for bankruptcy.
A diabetic, former NBA player living bankrupt and living in a broken-down car? There aren’t a lot of things sadder than a person’s life falling apart.
But Williams’ problems speak to other issues: Why does he think the NBA should bail him out? Why should it have the burden of supporting Ray Williams, when Williams himself can’t support himself and the NBA has already paid $12,000 to help Williams out? Why is Williams blaming his lack of a job on an inability to receive transportation, when he would still have a working car if he had simply used it to go to work?
Look, there are a lot of people who aren’t very qualified for jobs, and a lot of them work their tails off to make ends meet. From this article, it seems that Williams hasn’t given himself that fair chance to succeed. I quote, “He lost or walked away from jobs as a cleaner, handyman, high school girls’ basketball coach, bakery worker, and golf course groundskeeper.” He’s walked away from jobs? When he’s that thirsty for money? If Williams isn’t going to dedicate himself to making a solid living, why should the NBA be obligated to support him? Why?
They shouldn’t. It’d be one thing if Williams was busting his ass, working minimum wage jobs and still couldn’t afford a place to stay. But he hasn’t. He’s walked away from jobs. He has screwed up others. It’s not the NBA’s responsibility to bail Williams out of his hole, so he shouldn’t be blaming them.
At the same time, Drew Gooden was just given a $32 million contract. And, while neither Gooden, nor any other overpaid NBA player, nor the NBA have any obligation to help Williams, isn’t it sad that some people are multi-millionaires and others are living in beat-up ’92 Buicks?