NBA star Grant Williams is using his time in quarantine from the Boston Celtics by mentoring local high school students.
In April, the rookie forward began holding Zoom meetings with six Boston-area teens, offering life advice and more. The meetings came about once Williams began working with MENTOR, an organization founded in 1990 that seeks to provide supportive relationships for young people in the United States. The NBA has been a partner with MENTOR since 2014.
“I really just loved mentorship as a whole,” Williams told The Undefeated. “I have seen guys around the league doing it. I saw Kemba doing it with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Charlotte. When we played in Charlotte, he had 10 to 12 kids in the stands that he had been talking to and had touched their lives growing up. I wanted to do a similar thing, but in Boston and other communities.”
Through MENTOR, Williams has connected to six underserved African American and Latino teenage boys from the Boston-based Mass Mentoring Partnership. Those young men include Josiris from Lawrence, Eden-Samuel from Brockton, Dante from Holyoke, Amiyr from Hyde Park, Moise from Mattapan and Dontay from Cambridge.
The first virtual meeting took place on April 15 with the teens completely unaware that Williams would be on the call.
Initially, it was a bit awkward between Williams and the boys. Only two of them had actually met previously through local youth basketball programs. Eventually they found their flow as the group discussed what they missed most from school, their favorite NBA players and why they were interested in meeting.
“I remember that each kid was pretty nervous or not really able to speak,” Williams said to The Undefeated. “We had two [with the same-sounding name], so we had to figure out what we were going to call each one by nickname. We ended up calling one ‘Donut.’”
He continued: “I had to stress to them the importance of being on time as well as being engaged, because some would just look around and not really pay much attention to the call or not have questions to ask. So, that first meeting kind of just established an identity for each kid.”
Williams and the teens have since grown close. The NBA ball player has also given the teens his phone number and speaks with them separately via Instagram group chat.
“We’ve been doing this for four weeks and have learned a lot about each other,” Williams said. “Guys are following each other on Instagram. Hopefully, we will connect as they progress through the years, because they’re only freshmen right now.”
The group of new friends also hope to meet up in person once Massachusetts stay at home orders are lifted and it’s safer to congregate. Williams is currently living in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina with fellow Celtic Kemba Walker, a former player for the Charlotte Hornets.
“They have these ideas of what we’re going to do or funny things that could happen,” Williams told The Undefeated. “They all want to go bowling when I get back to Boston. I will be happy for that day.”
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