Following a recent basketball game between Big 10 rivals Maryland Terrapins and Iowa Hawkeyes, former NBA player and Terps standout Walt Williams responded to the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
“I can’t say I really knew Kobe all that well, but as a competitor, It was amazing how he seemed to improve year after year,” said Williams, who starred at Maryland from 1988-92 and played 11 seasons in the NBA, retiring in 2003. “That’s what really stood out to me, about him. It’s really a sad situation and I pray for his family and all the other people who were involved.”
Williams’ comments came just days after the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others. The tragedy rocked the sports world and beyond, as evidenced by a Feb. 24 public memorial service at Staples Center in Los Angeles that drew thousands of celebrities and fans.
Williams is no stranger to tragic events himself. The Crossland High School (Temple Hills, Md.) graduate is often credited with helping to resurrect the Maryland basketball program after the drug-related death of legendary Terrapin Len Bias in 1988 and the ensuing scandal that resulted in the dismissal of longtime Maryland head coach Lefty Driesell.
In the immediate days after Bryant’s death, the Xfinity Center on Maryland’s campus was shrouded with sadness. Prior to the Jan. 30 game against Iowa, the PA announcer acknowledged the incident to the nearly sold-out 18,000 seat arena, in addition to the Jan. 21 death of Morgan Wootten, the Hall of Fame basketball coach from DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland.
Williams, now 49, is a member of the Maryland University basketball media relations staff and a sideline radio broadcast reporter. He’s also a financial adviser.