Friday, September 6, 2013

Boo Williams, Staley, too, get their spots in Hall of Fame on Saturday

You probably know that Virginia's Dawn Staley is being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, and it's no wonder why. The National Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992, Staley raised the bar on Virginia women's basketball, going on to win three Olympic golds and play in the ABL and WNBA. She currently coaches South Carolina.

You might not know who is being honored along with Staley  -- that is, in addition to North Carolina's Sylvia Hatchell -- also from our game.

No wonder why either, considering the honoree is Boo Williams, perhaps the most unassuming influential figure in the sport. Along with Pat Summitt and Magic Johnson, Williams will receive the Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award on Saturday evening in Springfield. While Johnson represents the pro game and Summitt the college game, Boo is this year's grassroots winner. And it's no surprise that if you go to the Hall of Fame website, his is the only bio without a photo.

That's just Boo.

The day Boo brags about himself is the day Geno wears orange in Knoxville. Boo is a humble, quiet ambassador for the sport whose full-time job is insurance agent. When he talks, it's rarely about himself. He'd rather talk about one of his kids, and there are many of those. Boo estimates coaching or mentoring more than 2,500 kids, both male and female over the years. The Boo Williams Summer League, founded with four teams in 1982, now has nearly 200, and is sponsored by Nike.

Ask La'Keshia Frett about Boo or Elizabeth Williams. Allen Iverson or Alonzo Mourning. Mike Krzyzewski or Summitt. Everybody who's anybody has Boo on speed dial.

The Boo Williams Sportsplex or rather, the BooPlex, a multi-purpose sports facility in Hampton, is his baby.

The Jackson Award, named for the former Harlem Globetrotters owner, recognizes those are visionaries, those who embrace the core values of the game: hard work, striving to improve and a commitment to others. The award is given to those who are catalysts for change -- leaders who demonstrate a philosophy of respectfulness, teamwork, commitment and human passion in all aspects of their lives.

We can't think of a more deserving recipient than Boo Williams.

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