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Deron Williams‘ struggles are real. Put aside for a moment his plummeting numbers of the last three seasons, including his first two in Brooklyn, and the crippling surgeries he’s undergone on both ankles just this summer.
From the moment he arrived via the tight-knit culture and Mormon confines of Salt Lake City, Utah, the 30-year-old, married and settled father of four hasn’t always been in a New York state of mind. For sure, the Nets found it to their advantage to have the three-time All-star guard and two-time Olympic gold medalist on hand to sell to their fan base as the pricey doors of the Barclays Center were about to swing open, but for Williams the rewards and benefits haven’t always been quite so apparent.
“I’m not going to lie, I don’t really feel so much like a New Yorker,” recently Williams admitted. “I grew up in an apartment in Texas where you could send your kids outside like ‘yeah, go play in the sun.’ Here it’s more challenging. The process of getting them into school is a nightmare. Even private schools are an ordeal. In Utah, you just send your kids to the first public school in the area because they’re all great. Truth is, we enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle and going back to Utah every summer.”
But, at the same time, Deron Williams realizes there is no grander stage in all of Hoops Nation for one to partake in their craft than the courts of New York City. It’s what largely inspired him to re-up with the upstart franchise for nearly $100 million just two seasons ago.
Perhaps motivating Williams to hold on to the Manhattan area he now calls home is the fact that some of his life-changing moments have also been born there. It’s the same town where Williams met and adopted his son D.J., whose ongoing battle with autism has since prompted him to found the foundation he now so diligently spearheads.
“Our causes range from juvenile diabetes to autism, to cancer clinics,” Williams said of his all his charitable endeavors. “We give scholarships, host youth clubs and try to help low-income and homeless families. Once we had this Christmas dinner for single moms and that really got to me. Don’t forget, I grew up with a single mom.”
Moved, yet stilled by those memories, Williams’ mind and focus returns to his other business at hand, namely conquering his rehab and getting back to the position of once being widely heralded as the league’s top overall point guard.
“What constitutes a New Yorker,” he ponders aloud. “The thing is New Yorkers are tough. Or, at least they think they are.”
Deron Williams can consider himself practically a native.
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