Monday, March 9, 2020 2:46 PM | CBN
While former NBA star and Global Ambassador Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams may have grown up in Derwood, Maryland, he was born at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC — the US capital city that has forever occupied a very special place in his heart.
Throughout the course of his childhood, Jerome “JYD” would often take visits back to Washington, DC on the weekends to his grandmother’s home on 16th Street in Northeast DC., where he enjoyed regularly playing basketball with his cousins on the playground of SLOW elementary school. Jerome would also often play street ball alongside his father, his brother and against many older players who knew the game better and had much more experience, which over time greatly helped to advance the young JYD’s basketball talents.
Len Bias was one of them. Len was always a special person that JYD looked up to. A local player in the DC area and huge figure in the metropolitan area, Len was the #1 draft pick for Boston Celtics. Sadly, he passed away due to drug abuse around the time JYD was in high school, but he always inspired Jerome to work harder when it came to improving his athletic performance on the courts as well as his education.
Another important figure that played a fundamental role in Jerome Williams’ life was Dr. Joseph Carr. Dr. Carr gave children in Washington the opportunity to play against the top local basketball talent in DC including the pros, college and division 1 players, holding meetups every Sunday to allow the aspiring young athletes to get practice playing against the best. JYD often teamed up with DC natives and future pros like Moochie Norris (Houston Rockets) and Steve Francis (Orlando Magic).
Lastly, coach of the Georgetown University basketball team John Thompson certainly made a lasting impact on Jerome’s life and professional NBA career. John had recruited JYD off the playground at one of the meetups set up by Dr. Joseph Carr. He was the only coach out of thousands that had expressed education being the key to overall success, which was in line with what Jerome had learned from his parents Johnnie & Seaquett Williams. By graduating from the prestigious Georgetown University, Coach Thompson guaranteed JYD that his future family would never go hungry.
The first opportunity was to play on a team with Allen Iverson, eventually becoming drafted into the first round of the NBA draft in 1996 along with greats Steve Nash, Ray Allen and the late Kobe Bryant, all of whom eventually went on to become Basketball Hall-of-Famers.
The second opportunity that Georgetown University provided JYD: recruitment to receive education and eventually obtain a degree in sociology with a minor in business and theology, to which he later used his degree to become the Vice President of the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) while playing in the NBA.
Jerome’s favorite quote from Coach Thompson: “ Those who know how will always have a job, but those who know why will always be the boss”.
Following his time in the NBA, Jerome commenced his non-profit JYD Project (Jerome’s Youth Development Project), a youth development organization for kids between the ages of 5 and 18 aimed to empower them and foster their growth into positive, productive adults through fun and engaging educational-based programs.
Jerome also partnered with a DC-based company that produces digital education for youth called EVERFI, as well as the NBRPA (National Basketball Retired Players Association) Chapters to start a program called Legends Shooting for Peace which ultimately raised $8.7 million dollars in college scholarship funds to HBCU’s, for children in both the US and Canada. Through these charitable efforts, Jerome Williams has been able to operate free basketball camps and clinics, while also delivering free African American history and financial literacy to youth all across the world. As the NBA’s Global Ambassador, JYD also worked alongside teams like the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors to enrich the lives of youth with the passion for the game.
Jerome has also been a generous contributor and player in the Sports Power’s Goodwill basketball charity games, in addition to partnering with Dream Courts by the Nancy Lieberman Foundation to provide refurbished basketball courts in America and abroad. Jerome was also an assistant coach to Nancy Lieberman for team Power in the BIG3 league, which won the BIG3 championship in 2018. These ongoing initiatives led to JYD’s nomination into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2020.
Through his entrepreneurial experience and education at Georgetown University, Jerome was able to shape many business opportunities. This included the opportunity to start his own media company called MBA Media Group with his wife Nikkollette, and to work alongside the BIG3’s Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz, not to mention still actively participating in the BIG3 games. In his second season Jerome was also deemed President of the BIG3’s Young3 initiative that works toward providing free basketball clinics, 3-on-3 tournaments and neighbourhood court refurbishments for youth. During his inaugural year with the BIG3, JYD experienced a tremendous boost in athletic performance - having notched a lead in team scoring, rebounds, and assists in the playoffs at the age of 45 playing for team POWER.
On July 11th, 2020, the BIG3 will be making its way to hometown Washington, DC at the Capitol One Arena - and this year, Jerome Williams has big plans to help the league create its biggest season yet as a proud board member and shareholder.
The Young3 has also announced for the first time that it will be giving Championship rings to winning participants of the tournament in DC, as well as hosting in-arena activities the day of the BIG3 games at Capitol One Arena. For more information on sign up availability please visit: www.young3.org or www.championsbasketballnetwork.com.