Ray Williams, a former Gophers basketball player in the 1970s who played many years in the NBA for the New York Knicks and other teams before falling on hard times, died Friday after a battle with cancer.
Ray Williams, a former Gophers basketball player in the 1970s who played many years in the NBA for the New York Knicks and other teams before falling on hard times, died Friday after a battle with cancer. He was 58.
Williams had been suffering from colon cancer and other forms of the disease, said Knicks spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz.
About three weeks ago, Knicks management flew Williams from Florida to New York for treatment at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
“Very sad day,” former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said in a tweet. “Ray Williams friend former teammate at Minnesota and best athlete to step on court at The Barn passed away this morning RIP.”
Williams played with the Gophers from 1975 to 1977 and averaged 18.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Born Thomas Ray Williams in Mount Vernon, N.Y., the 6-foot-3 point guard was drafted 10th overall by the Knicks in 1977.
Williams played 10 years in the NBA, half of those with the Knicks and also had two stints with the New Jersey Nets. He retired in 1987.
For his NBA career, he averaged 15.5 points, 5.8 assists and nearly 2 steals a game.
As recently as two years ago, Williams was homeless and living out of a car in Florida. Years earlier, he filed for bankruptcy and lost his home and family.
His brother is Gus Williams, who also starred in the NBA.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482