The phone call early Monday afternoon was classic Boo Williams.
"Teel," he said, "could you look something up for me?"
A friend had just congratulated Williams on an honor from the Basketball Hall of Fame. Williams was blissfully unaware — of the award's existence or his nomination for it.
Truth be told, Williams half suspected he was being pranked.
He was not. The Hall announced Monday that Williams,
Williams' initial reaction: "Wow."
A Hampton native and former star at Phoebus High and Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Williams began a Peninsula-based summer league in 1982 with 46 players and $400. He literally ran the operation out of the trunk of his car.
Today, the league, and Williams’ traveling teams of all ages, are nationally acclaimed, with thousands of boys and girls from throughout
In short, he's an ambassador.
"This year's winners … have all contributed greatly to the game of basketball and are active members in their community," Hall president John L. Doleva said in a statement. "It is an honor to recognize and celebrate these three distinguished humanitarians, all of whom have dedicated their lives to helping others through the game they love."
Johnson was among basketball’s greatest players and entertainers at Michigan State and with the
Summitt coached Tennessee’s women to eight
According to the Hall's press release, the Jackson award criteria "includes embracing the core values of the game, hard work, striving to improve the community and making a commitment to others. Beyond the game, award winners must reflect the values of Mannie Jackson's life-long mission to overcome obstacles and challenge the status quo, while taking responsibility for his or her actions and seeking the highest standard of excellence."
Jackson is the chairman and owner of
Williams, Summitt and Johnson will be recognized Sept. 7 in Springfield, Mass., during the Hall’s annual enshrinement weekend. This year’s class, also announced Monday, includes former Virginia All-American Dawn Staley, Louisville coach
The Human Spirit Award honors people from three levels of the game: professional, amateur and grassroots. Williams was nominated in the grassroots category.
Williams considers Summitt a particularly close friend because for decades she attended his annual spring invitational tournament to evaluate the nation’s top prospects. The Hall inaugurated the Jackson Award in 2007, and two past winners also are close to Williams: Sonny Hill and
Williams modeled his summer league after Hill's, a Philadelphia staple since the late 1960s. Williams' introduction to the Hill league came during his college career at Saint Joe's.
A 1988 graduate of Chesapeake’s Indian River High, Mourning is the most dominant player to compete on Williams’ barnstorming teams. He was an All-American at Georgetown and the second pick of the 1992
Mourning retired from the
"What great company," Williams said. "I'm honored."
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