“For me, Love the Game means appreciating the sport and valuing every opportunity it gives you to succeed in life,” says professional ball player Derek Williams.
Derek Williams has been playing basketball for three years and feels blessed to be able to say he has loved every experience of it.
Williams started his career in Latvia where he played for Vef Riga and the Riga Barons. In his second year, he started out playing in the NBA Development League for the Texas Legends followed by an opportunity to return to Europe where it all began. While there, Williams played in Turkey with a team called Gelisim. After doing so well, he decided to return to the same country, playing for a different team called Maliye Milli Piyango.
Williams knew he had a passion for basketball when he tried out for his high school team. Although he would be frustrated at games due to the fact he couldn’t play because of ineligible grades, this never discouraged him. He remained focused with the help of friends who gave him the tools and confidence he continues to have today. In addition, he knew this was the career he wanted to pursue. “Whether you’re just starting out or on the verge of quitting, it’s important to keep grinding and remaining focused on your goals,” says Williams. “Why quit? Quitting is so much easier than working on mastering your craft. Things will only get better the harder you work.”
While learning the game and growing within the sport, Williams says his biggest obstacle was gaining confidence and motivation for himself. “At the end of the day you have to be able to get out of bed and head to the gym on your own – no one can force you to do that.”
Basketball has helped Williams grow in various ways. The sport has taught him discipline, patience and the ability to be more vocal in order to lead his teams better within his position of point guard.
Motivated by his family, his newborn son and the passing of his grandmother, Williams says his grandmother is his biggest influence and he always wants to do right by her. “Even though she’s gone, there’s not a day where I don’t think about her and how she has helped my mom and aunts raise me to be the man I am today.”
Next year, Williams looks forward to returning to Europe, keeping an open and positive mind and allowing God to guide his steps and handle the rest.
“It’s always good to push yourself to be able to compete at the highest level of competition (NBA), but as you get older you start to realize there are other great competitions going on. If you don’t make it to the league be sure to remember that there are limitless opportunities to follow your dream and play the game you love elsewhere.” – Derek Williams
Written by Erica Wright
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