He was pegged to be the Chicago Bulls next superstar.
In 2002, Jay Williams was the second overall pick in the NBA draft after leading Duke University to the NCAA National Championship in 2001. He had it all, then he lost it all.
“What frame of mind is any 20 year-old in at that given time. We all did stupid things in college, so now you’re giving someone a lot of money and you expect them to be this role model,” Williams tells FOXBusiness.com.
In his new memoir, “Life is Not An Accident,” Williams chronicles his life: the ups and downs, including a very serious motorcycle accident that almost killed him, but instead left him bedridden and without a basketball career.
“Life is all about perspective and it depends on which prison you’re looking at. When people used to come up to me before and remind me of my accident, it would send me into a deeper state of depression,” Williams adds.
The three-time Duke All-American battled drug addictions and suicide attempts during his recovery. Today, he says his prior life experiences were all worth it.
“I’m happy. I’m on television and I’m thankful for the position that I am in,” the ESPN analyst says. “Michael Strahan has kind of set the bar for me now.”
Williams adds that young players start at a disadvantage when they enter the NBA.
“It’s not until you’re able to be in the a league for a while, which I wasn’t blessed with that opportunity to be able to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together,” he says. “You have all these different people that want to come into your life and you haven’t been planning to be this entrepreneur, so all of sudden you have agents, financial advisors, lawyers and you don’t know who to trust.”
In 2006, the NBA made high school players ineligible for the NBA Draft and there’s also the “One and Done” rule where players need to attend college for one season before entering the NBA draft.
“I don’t think forcing an athlete to stay in school does anything for the athlete,” says Williams, who stayed at Duke for three years before he was drafted. “I would rather kids go early right out of high school if you have a talent… I want you to be able to capitalize on that as quickly as possible."
Williams says that everyone else is able to capitalize on college players and make money, except the athletes themselves.
“The system is kind of corrupted when you think about it. Coaches make millions of dollars, the school makes millions, the network makes money but the kids aren’t allowed to take 20 dollars from an agency to buy a meal or their whole college eligibility is void and I think that’s BS.”
“I think there should be some kind of sharing of revenue,” he adds. “They need to allocate a small percentage of that money and let it inflate over the time they are there and then if the kid graduates on time with a certain GPA, let them get that small piece of money.”
Williams, now 34, says he hopes to have his own show one day and plans to focus on what is right now, leaving his past mistakes behind him.
“If there is anything that my life has taught me is that life is unexpected and you’re not always going to know the cards that you’re going to be dealt."