Williams' life lessons learned from parents
Lou Williams came to the Sixers in the summer of 2005 via the second round of the NBA draft. He was an 18-year-old kid who had just graduated from South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta.
Today, Williams is a 25-year-old free agent, enjoying a successful NBA career as a high-scoring sixth man. His father would be so proud, but he certainly would not have seen this coming.
“I was more into baseball at the time, so I am pretty sure he would be surprised to know I am a basketball player,” Williams said. "At the time" refers to when he was nine years old, when his dad died of a heart attack. “I thought I was going to be the next Ozzie Smith.”
Williams chuckled when asked if he inherited his athleticism from his dad.
“My dad was not athletic; he was a businessman. He had pool halls and did his own thing, but he was not very athletic. He was into football, a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but not very athletic.”
When his father passed away, Williams’ parents were not together, but they were both influential in shaping the person he is today. His mom, Janice Faulkner, is a regular at Sixers games and the Executive Director of the Lou Williams Foundation.
Meanwhile, memories remind Lou of the life lessons his dad imparted to him as a boy.
“I have great memories of him,” Williams said. “My dad used to always say ‘come get your bankroll’ and he would give me this wad of money, and looking back, it couldn't have been any more than twenty bucks in one dollar bills, but it gave me a responsibility to deal with money at a young age. It is something that I deal with now. It is why I really don't go on these spending sprees, because I had an early sense of it.
“He's also given me a certain toughness that I have grown up with over the years. Once I got into a fight at school and my mom asked him to whoop me and he asked me, ‘Did you win the fight?’ And I said, ‘well, yes,’ and he looked at my mom and said ‘I don't understand why I should make him lose today.’"
Just as his parents had a great deal to do with the man he is today, Williams is trying to do the same with his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Jada.
“Everyday is something different in terms of the way that I let her interact,” Williams said. “The other day we were having a debate, Andre (Iguodala) and myself, on how would you raise your kid, because we both have young kids. I said 'If your daughter is ten years-old, a scholar student, doesn't get into any trouble and the only thing in the world she wants to do is cut her hair off, would you let her?'
“We went back and forth about how we were raised; I was raised in an environment where you kind of learned right from wrong on your own. My mother and my father allowed me that space to become a man at some point. It is one of those things where my upbringing reflects the way I will bring Jada up. Everyday I learn things about her and everyday she surprises me.”
And for the inquiring mind wanting to know if in fact Williams would allow for all the hair to come off...
“If she did everything by the book and that was the thing she desired most in the world, I wouldn't have any problem with it,” he said smiling.
Kids do that to you. They change you in ways you never could have imagined before they entered your world.
“It (fatherhood) changed me a great deal,” Williams said. “It brings balance to everything. I put everything in perspective now. Sometimes we lose a game and I come home to a little girl that doesn't understand anything that happened to me that night. She has the biggest smile on her face, she is running up and down these hallways and she is just excited to see me, so it just puts things in perspective.
“I have become more mature,” he said. “I have become the leader of my family as a whole and it just puts me in a great space.”
Williams is coming off a season where he led the Sixers in scoring with 15 points per game. He shot 41 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three-point range. His points per game and three-point percentage were both career bests. He has spent the first seven years of his career with the Sixers and he may well continue his career here. Still, he will field other offers when free agency opens on July 1.
“I would like to play until the wheels fall off and to leave the game on my own terms,” Williams said, showing that maturity he speaks of. “I really don't want to be a guy that just sticks around and overstays his welcome. I hope I get a lot of things accomplished in however many years lie ahead.”
And when basketball is complete, the music world will likely inherit him full-time. Williams likes to dabble in creating music, and, just as he is on the hardwood, he is confident about his those talents as well.
“It was just something I always grew up around, was interested in and had a passion for and just tried it,” he said. “I don't have a great singing voice. I like to occupy my time and try different things and producing music and making music is something I have had a passion for and something I am pretty good at. After basketball, who knows what lies ahead but that is definitely something I can be pretty good at.
“I don't play instruments. I create my own music, but I don't write it.
"Everything is..." he said, pointing to his brain. "It is kind of cool.”
It's doubtful Williams' dad would be surprised at the cool young man and proud father his son has become.E-mail Dei Lynam at email@example.com