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On Tuesday October 9th Jimmy and Rickey Williams were both inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. To date, only 330 athletes have received such honor and out of that number roughly 50 including Jimmy and Rickey are African American. For the Williams brothers, Jimmy (64 years old) and Rickey (61 years old), this honor is humbly received but long overdue.
Growing up, the Williams brothers were a tag team. Although three years apart, they did just about everything together, including honing in their skills on the basketball court. Jimmy recounts his winning experiences with his younger brother going all the way back to elementary school. “We’ve been winning since the beginning! It goes way back, all the way back to school #75! We were winning city championships and again at Genesee Humboldt Junior High School. Back then, that was like winning the state championships in high school” Jimmy recounts.
Jimmy Williams had an illustrious career as a high school and college stand out in the state of New York. In the 1972-73’ season, Jimmy Williams was the New York State Basketball Player of the Year averaging 32 points per game for East High School. He went on to play at the prestigious Syracuse University where he was the first freshman to ever start a basketball game and led the Orangemen to their first ever Final Four appearance. His memories of his high school days are bittersweet as he states, “Winning Player of the Year, the most valuable player in the state of New York was something special to me and something that I wanted to be able to bring home and show my mother, but I never got my award.” Something that Jimmy was much deserving of, as he was the first to win the award from the City of Buffalo as well as the first State Champion in the City.
Rickey, much like his older brother Jimmy, flourished on the court. The more laid back of the two, Rickey states that he is “just humbled to be in consideration as a part of the induction process” and “when I was going to college, I just wanted to get a good education. I didn’t know that my career would take off the way it did.” But it did, and in a major way. Rickey, a product of Bishop Timon High School, spent his first two seasons at University of Mexico. He then transferred to Long Beach State, where as he remembers, “played in a bigger market, against pro’s and top notch talent on a regular basis” and his career took off. He wound up getting drafted to the National Basketball Association in the 1978 draft to the New Orleans Jazz. In 1979, Rickey was traded to the Chicago Bulls and in 1983 was waived by the Utah Jazz.
If you were to speak to either brother today, you’d find out that they still carry the fire and tenacity that made them who they are today. Products of Buffalo’s own Masten Boy’s Club, the Williams brothers “took pride in their game” and attributes their success to their coaches, but most of all, their mindset. The mindset of true warriors and undeniable legends not just in the City of Buffalo, but in the nation.
Congratulations again to both Jimmy and Rickey Williams on being inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and we wish you continued success and hope that you will continue to play an intricate role in the game of basketball for the City of Buffalo.