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(l-r) ESPN's Jay Williams, event chair Dr. Stephen Nicholas and NFL Pro Bowl Lineman Marcellus Wiley at the NKF Golf Classic at Winged Foot Golf Club
Jay Williams has a long history in basketball and an equally long history with kidney disease. As a teenager, he spent hours driving his grandmother back and forth to dialysis treatment and as an adult, he offered moral support to his mom who received a kidney transplant due to the disease she inherited from Grandma. But besides switching roles and supporting his Mom who was his "rock" when he underwent 13 surgeries during his short-lived NBA career, Williams is now back to scoring points as he hits the links and speaks out to help the kidney cause at the NKF Golf Classic.
Despite his many operations due to a motorcycle accident in 2003 that shortened his professional basketball career, Williams was fully prepared to go under the knife again when his mom needed a new kidney. However, she refused his offer and shortly afterwards, a teacher in the school where she is principal, stepped forward and offered to donate. The willing donor underwent all the necessary tests, learned she was a match and the surgery took place without a hitch. Both donor and recipient have since been blessed with good health.
"When I was injured, my mom was a beacon of light and strength," said Williams. "I never thought I'd recover and she insisted that I would get up out of the bed and be running around before long. When she got sick, we switched roles. She was in the hospital and I became the parent. She wasn't sure the transplant would work and I insisted that it would and that she'd be fine."
He credits the medical staff at Johns Hopkins where the transplant was performed with saving his mom's health. "They were very proactive, they didn't wait until Mom was really sick and on dialysis. They said, let's do a transplant pre-emptively and they started the transplant process while she was still pretty healthy. I'm sure that's why she came through it so well."
To honor his mom and help spread organ donor awareness, Williams kicked off the National Kidney Foundation Golf Classic season in May by swinging for the fairways at the famed Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY.
Since 1981, more than 100,000 golfers have participated in local NKF golf tournaments raising more than $80 million. More than 30 local tournaments are scheduled to be held at prestigious courses in major U.S. cities this year. Sign up for an event in your area today.