Nico Williams: From fighting negativity to flourishing on pro courts

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 10:22 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Nico Williams, a remarkable individual who is known for his loving nature, dedication, and resilience, grew up in the foster system. Despite his challenging background, he has managed to achieve his dream of becoming a professional basketball player and is now embarking on a journey to Mexico to do so. His inspiring story is a testament to the rewards of perseverance, hard work, and unwavering determination.

During his childhood, Williams lived in Killeen, TX. But as a young teenager, he relocated to Columbus and resided in a local group home for boys due to troubles in his own home. This was a difficult experience for him, as he had to mature and become self-reliant quickly.

“I had to really learn early how to take care of myself in a way. I had family members who were always there to help, but it wasn’t the nucleus that I wanted or felt like I needed at the time,” said Williams.

According to Williams, moving into the group home was difficult because of his quick temper, which led to many altercations. However, there was one person at the facility who helped him to improve his behavior and mindset.

“It was rough. A lot of fighting... a lot of fighting. But I’m super thankful for Mr. [Tim] Crumbley. He sat me down and told me, ‘You have the potential to be great. You have opportunities in front of you that you will miss out on if you don’t give yourself a chance to really learn from your mistake’,” said Williams

Williams encountered numerous individuals, including Mr. Tim Crumbley, who provided him with support and guidance as he faced the obstacles of maturing and entering adulthood.

Danielle Thomas, who affectionately calls Williams her ‘little big brother,’ says she always believed in his ability to accomplish great things. However, she simply felt he required additional motivation to reach his full potential.

“He’s that kind of guy. You have to pour a little gasoline on the fire to really rev it up,” said Thomas. “He just needs a little, like I said, gas on the flame, and he’ll burn it up for you.”

Williams recalls discovering basketball when he was around eight or nine, thanks to his cousin and father, who introduced him to the sport. Yet, despite his fondness for the game, Williams admits that he did not take it seriously until his junior year in high school.

During his high school years, Williams encountered a lot of negativity from his teachers, who doubted his ability to graduate on time because of his living situation. Even with this, he remained determined and focused on his education and was able to graduate on time with top honors, earning his GED.

“I graduated with honors, and I was Valedictorian of my class,” said Williams.

Williams shared that his college experience was challenging and made him realize it wasn’t the right path. However, during this time, he discovered his passion for basketball and wanted to take his skills to the next level. Despite his confidence in his decision, he did not receive the necessary support from his family. They were more concerned with his financial security rather than his dreams.

“The support wasn’t there for me with basketball from my family. They were speaking from a stance of ‘we want you to be able to take care of yourself financially. We won’t always be here,” spoke Williams.

With the pressures of life stacked against him, Williams still continued to fight for the aspirations he set forth for himself by training and sharpening his skills. He says if it weren’t for his trainer, he wouldn’t be in the position he’s in now.

“I owe everything to him. If he didn’t come down from Philly and he didn’t meet me in that hot gym, there would be no Nico the Basketball Player,” expressed Williams.

He proudly shared that his training has led him to various locations, including Spain, Armenia, and, most recently, Mexico, where he was recruited by the Tijuana Dragons to play as a professional.

Throughout his journey, Williams remained true to his roots at the Kenneth B. Walker (KBW) Residential Home for Boys by giving back to the place where it all started. Mervin Alexander, an 18-year child advocate at the facility, says it’s a blessing to have Williams return and offer his time to the boys.

“Now to see him flourish to what he is today – going overseas, working, coming here and putting his time in with the young boys, you know, paying back to our community here at KBW – it’s a blessing. So I applaud him and wish him the best,” described Alexander.

Williams recently organized a basketball camp for the boys at the home. The kids had the opportunity to listen to inspirational messages from guest speakers, improve their basketball skills, and enjoy each other’s company. He aimed to show the boys that their potential for greatness is not limited by their origins through hosting the event.

As he embarks on his journey as a professional basketball player for the Tijuana Dragons, Williams has set his sights on eventually being part of the overseas basketball Olympic team to prove himself as being one of the greatest to anyone who may have doubted him. He is determined to thrive, no matter the challenge, saying his biggest inspiration is his late father, and his biggest motivation is his two daughters.

The story of Nico Williams serves as a testament to the fact that with hard work and self-belief, anything is achievable. He sets a great example for many, motivating them to stay persistent and focused in the face of challenges. It’s exciting to see where his journey will take him next, and there is much confidence that he will keep inspiring others with his extraordinary tale of perseverance and victory.

Watch below for exclusive raw interview clips with Nico Williams: