PSA’ Williams overcoming incredible adversity with a smile on his face
Putnam Science Academy post-graduate guard Johnnie Williams may be a name that many local fans have not yet heard. He only arrived in New England for this season after playing his high school basketball in Florida, and only recently became a consistent member of the Mustang's rotation.
Williams story though is an inspirational one as he has suffered incredible adversity at a young age and yet still continues to persevere and push forward.
Below is an exert from a feature written by Stephen Nalbandian and published on the Putnam Science Academy web-site that tells that full-story of the tragedy and hardship he's had to overcome in his life and just how he's managed to do it.
He lost his dad to a senseless crime. He lost his home, and in the process, he lost his family. He lost basketball and his identity and his sense of self. He has endured loss that few of us, thankfully, can understand. And yet somehow, Johnnie Williams IV – a post-grad player on the Putnam Science Academy prep basketball team – has lost neither his way nor his will. “He’s got stuff going on that a normal high school kid couldn’t deal with,” PSA assistant coach Josh Scraba said. “He copes with it with a smile on his face. His energy and his attitude are unbelievable. When we recruited him to come here, everyone said the same thing: For what he’s been through and the way he is now and the way he carries himself, no other high school kid could deal with this stuff. The things he appreciates, none of these kids understand. It’s another level. For the way he’s turned out, the kind of kid he is, everyone loves him. He’s everyone’s favorite kid. It’s an unbelievable story. He’s an awesome kid.”
The second child of high school sweethearts, Williams said things were good when he was little, his parents always showering him and his older sister with love. “Things were fantastic. My dad would bring me things for Christmas or my birthday. He never whupped me. If we had a disagreement or if I ever did something bad, he’d come talk to me,” Williams said. “It was never bad, especially when he was there.” But in September 2008, a few months before Williams turned 9, his father, Johnnie Williams III, was murdered. Williams III was 14 years older than his killer and used to give him rides to the store when they were younger. Williams said the killer pulled up on his father and demanded his necklace. When Williams III said no, he was shot in the chest. Somehow, the family forged on. Williams, his mother, and his older sister all lived with his grandmother. (Williams also has a younger sister who lives with another family, and a 6-year-old brother.)
Basketball became his outlet, and he became very good at it. After a junior season in which he averaged about 18 points per game for Booker High School in Sarasota, Fla., Williams had a big summer with one of the top programs in the Nike EYBL circuit. He was on the radar of many college programs, seemingly on his way.