A year to remember

Michael Vander Linden / Washburn Review

“A year ago, most people didn’t know this, but I was ready to be done with basketball.”

This statement, made by the 2012 All-MIAA Player of the Year Ebonie Williams, might come as a shock to some people. To understand this comment, though, one must go back all the way to the beginning of Ebonie’s life.

Williams grew up, not in one place, but several places. After her mother married a Navy guy, Ebonie was forced to move around a lot. She remembers spending several years in Virginia, and down to Florida with her biological father for a couple of years, and back up to the Washington D.C./Maryland area.

“Then, my mom got a divorce, and turned my whole life around,” said Williams. “We went from having everything we wanted, to living in my grandmother’s house with nine people.”

Reluctantly, she remembered money being quite a problem for the family. However, she always relied on basketball to get her through.

While living with her grandmother, she noted it was kind of a rough area to grow up in.

“You don’t really realize all of the bad stuff going on around until you look back,” said Williams. “Then it’s like, ‘Dang, did that really happen?'”

However, growing up in this environment made for a stronger Ebonie.

With the neighborhood around her being a challenge, Ebonie looked to the game of basketball that sat out in her grandmother’s driveway. She admitted to never being serious about it, but just picking it up for fun.

“I definitely didn’t think it was going to lead me to college or anything,” said Williams. “I just had a knack for it.”

After wondering which high school she would attend, she met with a coach from Notre Dame Academy in Virginia named Mike Teasley. Teasley, while having a strong résumé himself, was the brother of a new rookie sensation, the Los Angeles Sparks’ Nikkie Teasley.

With both coach and sister working with Ebonie on her game, she was able to help the team to a high school state championship, along with being named as the area’s Player of the Year.

“Mike Teasley affected me as a player and a person in life,” said Williams. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him.”

With such accomplishments in high school, Ebonie chose to go to Seton Hall, where she started her college career off with a bang. She was named to the Big East All Conference Team and the All-Rookie Team.

Two other big factors came into Ebonie’s life around this time: music and a boyfriend.

“I got this internship at Atlantic Records near the college and met a lot of famous people,” said Williams. “I love all types of music and even wanted to get into the entertainment industry with a business degree.”

Her boyfriend, Kansas State guard Jamar Samuels, made a major impact on her. She noted that he was the one that was there from the beginning, helping her through good times and bad.

And a few bad times she had recently. After last season, Ebonie questioned whether she wanted to continue her career in basketball. However, after making the decision to come back for a senior year, she admitted she had no regrets.

“This year has been such a relief and has been so refreshing,” said Williams. “I can only thank God for that.”

The biggest accomplishment for Ebonie this year comes not from her accolades or the victories on the court, but from her family.

“As long as my family is happy with what I’m doing, then nothing else matters to me,” said Williams.