Jay Williams’s return to the basketball court will be accompanied by an important memento.
He says he plans to wear a No. 2 jersey, a change from his No. 22 and a reminder of his second chance ï¿½ in basketball, but most of all, in life.
Williams, a point guard, nearly died in a motorcycle accident on Chicago’s North Side three years ago, on June 19, 2003. Over the past couple of weeks, he has hopped from team to team with the hope of resuming his once-promising N.B.A. career.
He may never become the star that many thought he could be. But simply earning a seat on a team’s bench could be considered a remarkable achievement.
Williams, selected by the Chicago Bulls out of Duke with the second overall pick in the 2002 draft, fractured his pelvis and sustained ligament damage in his left knee in the accident. Doctors questioned whether he would walk again.
Williams had his doubts, too.
“I was really scared,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to have the opportunity to play ever again.”
It took him about seven and a half months after the accident to walk on his own. About five months after that, he was running lightly.
A year after his accident, Williams solidified his decision to take another shot at the N.B.A. after receiving encouragement from several youths at a Duke basketball camp.
He had not put up stellar numbers as a rookie during the 2002-3 season, averaging 9.5 points and 4.7 assists. And nearly seven months after his accident, the Bulls bought out the remaining two years of his contract for what his agent said at the time was a figure in the $3 million range.