For those of you who don't know me, this post will probably make me seem like a giant stalker. Actually, it may make those of you do know me think that too (or just reaffirm that thought).
When I was about 9 years old, my dad and I started going to Eric Montross' Father's Day basketball camp. It was a fun camp filled with tons of current and former Carolina basketball players. I was at the age where I was just getting into Carolina basketball and only knew the really famous players.
As we walked around to get autographs and take pictures, I came across a player I didn't know.
"Who's that, Dad? Should I get his autograph?"
"His name is Shammond and he's a sophomore. Take a picture with him, he's going to be good."
Shammond came from a high school in Greenville, S.C. and while he was a great player there, he didn't receive much Division 1 attention. He did, however, get a D1 offer from Georgia Tech. To be in the band.
He decided his heart belonged to basketball and went to Fork Union Military Academy for a year where he caught the eye of Dean Smith.
I took a picture with him and discovered he was one of the nicest guys I had ever met. Thus began my love of Shammond Williams.
Shammond became a starter for his next to years at Carolina and I became his biggest fan. Literally. My family and I followed him to the followed him to the NBA Draft in Vancouver (okay, there were other Carolina players there too) and made it on t.v. with a sign that said, "Raleigh, N.C. supports Shammond, Antawn, Vince and Maktar."
That sign still makes me laugh hysterically. Antwan and Vince were two of the top players in the country and were both lottery picks, but Shammond had to be first on that sign.
After some moving around in the NBA, Shammond settled down with the Seattle SuperSonics for a few years. I immediately got a "Williams" Sonics jersey made (they didn't really mass produce those) and my dad bought us tickets for the game in Charlotte against the Hornets.
We got there early. Super early. Before the doors opened. Finally the doors opened, but then we were just waiting in the lobby until they let us in the stadium. While we were waiting, a very tall woman came up to me and said, "I love your jersey! Where did you get that?"
I explained that we had it made and told her Shammond was my favorite player in the world. I then found out I was talking to his mom! We talked for about an hour and she was one of the nicest people I had ever met. Once the doors opened, she made sure that I got to talk to Shammond.
Shammond was so incredibly gracious. He thanked us for coming, thanked us for being such a good fan and called my dad "sir." We took pictures and we became friends. I refused to wash my hand from where he shook it. There is a picture of Shammond and I that day and my eyes are about the size of my face.
From that day on, we'd go to all of his games and he'd come and speak to us and treat us as friends. I'm not exaggerating when I say he is honestly one of the kindest, most humble people I have ever met.
Shammond retired from basketball last year and has been hanging around Chapel Hill, giving pointers to current players. Yesterday, Furman (in Greenville, his old stomping grounds) announced that Shammond was their new assistant coach.
I could not be happier for him. Or prouder.
And now you all know what a crazy basketball stalker fan I am. No shame.