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Baby and a ball: Ashley Williams’ emotional Alabama journey coming to close


Former Alabama coach Wendell Hudson didn’t ... Although their bases were five hours apart, double the travel time between their homes in the United States (he’s from Mississippi, she’s from Memphis), they were set up on a blind date.


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.st0{opacity:0.99;enable-background:new ;} You are using an outdated browserPlease upgrade your browser to improve your experience. .cm-dynamic-bg-color{ background-color: rgba(158,27,50, 1) } @media(min-width: 48em){ .cm-site-header__topic:after{ background-image: linear-gradient(90deg, rgba(158,27,50, 1) 0%, rgba(158,27,50, 0) 100%); } } .cm-site-header__topic__asset--large{ display: none; } @media (min-width: ) { .cm-site-header__topic__asset--large{ display: block; } .cm-site-header__topic__asset--small{ display: none; } } Menu SEC Country Home Football Football News Rammer Jammer 2017 Schedule SEC Country Live Recruiting 2018 Recruits 2019 Recruits Recruiting Articles Daily Podcast Basketball Basketball Articles 2017-2018 Schedule SEC West Alabama Arkansas Auburn LSU Mississippi State Ole Miss Texas A&M SEC East Florida Georgia Kentucky Missouri South Carolina Tennessee Vanderbilt SEC News Partners SEC All SEC News Alabama Crimson Tide Arkansas Razorbacks Auburn Tigers Florida Gators Georgia Bulldogs Kentucky Wildcats LSU Tigers Ole Miss Rebels Mississippi State Bulldogs Missouri Tigers South Carolina Gamecocks Tennessee Volunteers Texas A&M Aggies Vanderbilt Commodores ACC All ACC News Boston College Eagles Clemson Tigers Duke Blue Devils Florida State Seminoles Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Louisville Cardinals Miami Hurricanes NC State Wolfpack North Carolina Tar Heels Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pitt Panthers Syracuse Orange Virginia Cavaliers Virginia Tech Hokies Wake Forest Demon Deacons Big Ten All Big Ten News Illinois Fighting Illini Indiana Hoosiers Iowa Hawkeyes Maryland Terrapins Michigan Wolverines Michigan State Spartans Minnesota Golden Gophers Nebraska Cornhuskers Northwestern Wildcats Ohio State Buckeyes Penn State Nittany Lions Purdue Boilermakers Rutgers Scarlet Knights Wisconsin Badgers Big 12 All Big 12 News Baylor Bears Iowa State Cyclones Kansas Jayhawks Kansas State Wildcats Oklahoma Sooners Oklahoma State Cowboys TCU Horned Frogs Texas Longhorns Texas Tech Red Raiders West Virginia Mountaineers Pac-12 All Pac-12 News Arizona Wildcats Arizona State Sun Devils Cal Golden Bears Colorado Buffaloes Oregon Ducks Oregon State Beavers Stanford Cardinal UCLA Bruins USC Trojans Utah Utes Washington Huskies Washington State Cougars Alabama 2018 Recruits 20 Signed 0 Commits See all recruits .podcastMic path{fill:#9e1b32}The Alabama PodcastThe edge Tua Tagovailoa holds in the spring QB competition #news-article path{fill:#9e1b32}news-article-iconRoll Tide-ingsAlabama hoping for another Patrick Surtain Jr.-like recruitment for 5-star DB who has LSU on topChris Kirschner - Posted: 4 hours ago #news-article path{fill:#9e1b32}news-article-iconRammer JammerAlabama football: Crimson Tide players build house for Habitat for HumanityMatt Speakman - Posted: 16 hours ago isSingleDefault = true; .cm-post__body blockquote{ border-left-color: #9e1b32 } .cm-post__body .has-end-mark:after{ background-color: #9e1b32; } Baby and a ball: Ashley Williams’ emotional Alabama journey coming to close Ashley Williams celebrated senior day with her coach and family, including her 2-year-old daughter. UA Athletics/courtesy Christopher Walsh Posted 5 days ago var mapping = []; mapping.push( [[1, 1], [728, 90]] ); var adWidget = { sponsorId: ', conference: ', contentType: ', slotId: 'AS10', containerId: 'widget-ad-cmgads-2', sizes: [[728, 90], [300, 250]], mapping: mapping, hideIfSponsored: false, isContentResponsive: false, display: 'Desktop' }; //console.log(adWidget); if (adWidget.slotId && adWidget.slotId !== ') { _cmg_registered_custom_ads.push(adWidget); } TUSCALOOSA, Ala— There were tearsLots and lots of tearsTears of joy, of accomplishment and from just being emotionally overcome for a variety of reasonsBut not of sorrow. var mapping = []; mapping.push( [[1,1],[[300,250],[320,50]]] ); var adWidget = { sponsorId: ', conference: ', contentType: ', slotId: 'AS01', containerId: 'widget-ad-cmgads-3', sizes: [[300,250],[320,50]], mapping: mapping, hideIfSponsored: false, isContentResponsive: false, display: 'Mobile' }; //console.log(adWidget); if (adWidget.slotId && adWidget.slotId !== ') { _cmg_registered_custom_ads.push(adWidget); } The University of Alabama women’s basketball team had so much to ommentelebrate when it recently held its senior day, and not just because of the big home win against rival AuburnIt also was the Power of Pink/Play4Kay game for breast cancer awarenessThe Crimson Tide played before their largest crowd of the season at Coleman ColiseumOne of the players was even asked to be in her best friend’s wedding — it was that kind of dayBut what everyone would especially remember occurred at the end of the ceremony to honor the seniorsOne by one they were introduced and walked out to the giant script-A logo with their families, some holding small children who were brothers, sisters or cousinsThen finally came the energetic near-2-year-old leading out senior forward Ashley Williams, looking like she was the one who belonged at midcourt and not the athlete wearing jersey No20That’s when a lot of eyes started to really dampen, and no one was about to make any excuses for whyWilliams subsequently made the formal introduction during the postgame news conference, which had been a long time coming“This is Kamryn,” she said“This is my daughter. var mapping = []; mapping.push( [[1,1],[300,250]] ); var adWidget = { sponsorId: ', conference: ', contentType: ', slotId: 'AS02', containerId: 'widget-ad-cmgads-4', sizes: [300,250], mapping: mapping, hideIfSponsored: false, isContentResponsive: false, display: 'Mobile' }; //console.log(adWidget); if (adWidget.slotId && adWidget.slotId !== ') { _cmg_registered_custom_ads.push(adWidget); } “This means a lotIt’s been a long journey … ” ‘I thought my career was over’ It was the summer of 2015 and the Crimson Tide were getting ready to make a 10-day international trip to Italy, with stops in Rome, Florence, Venice and Lake ComoFor some it would be the trip of a lifetime, but Williams felt anything but excitementShe had just found out she was pregnant, and the 20-year-old had never felt so aloneLike so many female athletes who had been in that situation before, Williams was scared and overwhelmedShe didn’t know what to do, who to tell or what might happen to her scholarshipEverything she had worked so hard for was in jeopardy and the only certainty was that her life would never be the same“That was my main thought,” she said“When I found out I really didn’t think that I would be able to play basketball anymoreI thought my career was over“I didn’t think I’d be able to finish schoolI thought about just coming home.” var mapping = []; mapping.push( [[1,1],[300,250]] ); var adWidget = { sponsorId: ', conference: ', contentType: ', slotId: 'AS03', containerId: 'widget-ad-cmgads-7', sizes: [300,250], mapping: mapping, hideIfSponsored: false, isContentResponsive: false, display: 'Mobile' }; //console.log(adWidget); if (adWidget.slotId && adWidget.slotId !== ') { _cmg_registered_custom_ads.push(adWidget); } A secondary concern was that Williams dreaded the feeling of letting everyone downDuring her first two seasons the Crimson Tide struggled, especially after a key player departed unexpectedly each season, leaving big holes on the rosterHer style of play had become reflective of her status the teamA rebound off a missed shot converted into a basket? It probably was WilliamsCoaches called on her for things such as making a key inbound pass, and she often found ways to get to the free-throw line when the game was on the lineWilliams averaged 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds to make the SEC All-Freshman Team, and 13.7 and 6.1, respectively, as a sophomore, leading the Crimson Tide in both categoriesSix times she had topped 20 points in a game and recorded four double-doublesShe was even a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor societySomewhere in the midst of that anxiety and uncertainty she began to steady herself“I finally sat down and thought about it and said, ‘OK, I have a little girl on the way,’ ” Williams said“She wouldn’t be OK with me if I stopped playing and stopped going to school.” So she didn’t. var mapping = []; mapping.push( [[1,1],[300,250]] ); var adWidget = { sponsorId: ', conference: ', contentType: ', slotId: 'AS04', containerId: 'widget-ad-cmgads-8', sizes: [300,250], mapping: mapping, hideIfSponsored: false, isContentResponsive: false, display: 'Mobile' }; //console.log(adWidget); if (adWidget.slotId && adWidget.slotId !== ') { _cmg_registered_custom_ads.push(adWidget); } But she also had yet to have the toughest conversation of her lifeBaby steps Basketball wasn’t the sport in which Williams excelled while growing up, at least not at firstShe initially was a track standout who still holds some records at Alcovy High School in Covington, GaBecause of her height and speed, the basketball coach asked her to come out for the team in eighth grade and basically told her to stand under the basket and hold her hands upShe obviously got better, topping 1,000 points and rebounds during her prep career, and was named second-team all-state by the Georgia Sports Writers AssociationYet at 6-foot, some programs waivered at recruiting her as a top prospect because she was considered a little small for her positionFormer Alabama coach Wendell Hudson didn’tHe just saw someone who could play“Ashley Williams is the kind of student-athlete that everyone wants to be, strives to be,” he said“She’s an unbelievable person“Recruiting her was so much funWhatever the Williamses said, and Ashley would say, that’s what they meantWhen the Williamses said they were going to do something, no one was going to change their mindsThat’s who they are, and what she is.” var mapping = []; mapping.push( [[1,1],[300,250]] ); var adWidget = { sponsorId: ', conference: ', contentType: ', slotId: 'AS05', containerId: 'widget-ad-cmgads-9', sizes: [300,250], mapping: mapping, hideIfSponsored: false, isContentResponsive: false, display: 'Mobile' }; //console.log(adWidget); if (adWidget.slotId && adWidget.slotId !== ') { _cmg_registered_custom_ads.push(adWidget); } Ashley Williams has been a team leader since her freshman season in 2013-14, when she led Alabama in rebounds, field-goal percentage and free throws(UA Athletics/courtesy) One visit to Tuscaloosa was all it took, and before leaving campus Williams purchased a Crimson Tide shirtHer recruitment was over“It seems like just yesterday we were driving her down here for her first day,” said Williams’ mother, Coletta, which brings us back to the conversationWilliams’ parents met when they were both in the army, stationed in KoreaAlthough their bases were five hours apart, double the travel time between their homes in the United States (he’s from Mississippi, she’s from Memphis), they were set up on a blind date“If that wasn’t destiny to me, and God, I don’t know what is,” Charlie Williams saidRoughly 18 months later they were married and started bouncing around the world togetherStops included France, Germany and Kansas, and Ashley was born at Fort Polk in LouisianaHer father stayed in the military for 26 years, rising from enlisted to officer status and retired as a lieutenant colonelHe’s now also known as Pastor Williams of MtZion Baptist Church, just north of town“It was very, very tough,” Ashley Williams said about telling her parents“I didn’t know what they’d say.” Support comes from all around Ashley started by talking to a couple of teammates whom she trustedThen, after the Crimson Tide returned from Italy, a trainerFinally, she met with coach Kristy CurryAll were supportiveAll encouraged her to not give up on her academics, or her playing careerAs the team rallied, putting together plans for who would be able to help out on what days — and everyone chipped in — the coaching staff starting looking into what the school could and could not provide as part of her scholarshipWas day care an option? It even got to the point of asking the NCAA, which has a handbook on handling student-athlete pregnancies, whether they could give her a baby showerIt was while home on a break that Ashley finally told her parents, her mother firstThey had known something was amiss, especially when she started giving short answers to questions and then quickly getting off the phonePlus, she wasn’t working with the team“Being able to tell them kind of took a weight off my shoulders,” Ashley Williams said“I could tell that they were disappointed at first, but my parents were with me and supported me through everything“My dad told me that, ‘You hear that motto, minor setback for a major comeback.’ That was my motto for coming back.” Actually, the parents became the stars of this storyWhile still raising Ashley’s 16-year-old brother Quinten, who has sickle-cell disease, not only did they promise to step up and help out, but take care of the baby when necessary so she could finish school“My bottom line is that God doesn’t mistakes,” Charlie Williams said“The method may not be what you agreed to or wanted to happen, but the end result is that you have to play the cards you’ve been dealt“We’re going to dig in and make it workIt just wasn’t an option not to make it work.” Ashley stayed on campus during the fall and took courses online from home in the springKamryn was born on March 3, 2016, and Ashley still managed to finish the semester with a 4.0 GPAThe constant driving back and forth to Georgia began after Ashley returned to campus for the summer session and started working with the team trainer and strength coach to get back into playing shapeIt was a struggleAfter missing the entire 2015-16 season it was a long process, but her game started to return in spurtsShe averaged 7.4 and 6.5 rebounds as a junior and finally started to feel like her old self when the postseason rolled around“I’m more determined,” said Williams, a 2017 finalist for the Paul WBryant Award for Alabama’s top female athlete“I have more to fight forI have someone who’s looking up to meSo when I get out on the court I try and leave everything out there because I know she’s watching“I want her to grow up and know that if something comes in your way, keep fightingDon’t let it stop you.” Heading into her final SEC Tournament (Alabama opens against Kentucky at 1 p.mET Thursday, SEC Network), Williams is averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds this seasonShe’s on the Crimson Tide career top-10 list in scoring and rebounds, and has notched 17 double-doubles, including in three of the last four gamesDuring that stretch Alabama notched its first win ever at No11 TennesseeShe also was named SEC Player of the Week and there was the emotional sendoff against Auburn when she had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the 70-60 victory Ashley Williams recorded a pair of double-doubles in last week’s wins at No11 Tennessee and at home against Auburn to earn #SECWBB Player of the Week honors! ????????????#RollTide #GritAndGratitude pic.twitter.com/UcuWhn2lhh — Alabama Women’s Basketball (@AlabamaWBB) February 20, 2018 “All I can say is wow, and we’re so proud of her,” her mother said“She’s been through so much …” her father added“She’s been able to go through adversity, kick adversity’s butt, and then come back and perform at a great level.” Senior guard Hannah Cook, fresh off joining the wedding party for Nikki Hegstetter and football player Bradley Bozeman (who had an on-field engagement at the National Championship Game) was asked what Williams meant to the team“You want to start crying again?” Cook said. “She’s literally been our rockShe’s the mother hen — no pun intended — but she’s just a huge leader on our teamAlways gets us together, holds herself accountable, holds us accountableI just really appreciate her as a personReally good person, really good friend who would do anything for you“I love you, Ash … way to get that double-double as well.” With her Crimson Tide career drawing to a close, Ashley Williams already has a degree in criminal justice and is set to earn her master’s in MayIf the chance to play pro ball comes around she’d like to give it a shot, otherwise she hopes to have a career working in complianceMeanwhile, her family’s never been closer and she thanks her parents just about every day“She’s going to have a really successful future,” Curry said“She’s going to be a great mom.” Beyond Basketball: Ashley Williams' journey as a student-athlete and a mother We hope you enjoy this special story! #RollTide #GritAndGratitude pic.twitter.com/ErDDBG3N2T — Alabama Women’s Basketball (@AlabamaWBB) February 28, 2018 Leave a Comment NEXT Question that needs to be answered at A-Day for Alabama to repeat (function( $ ) { 'use strict'; $(function() { Ellipsis({ class: '.js-next-title-ellipsis', lines: 3 }); $('[data-next-article]').on('click',function(e) { google_send_event('next article', 'click', $(this).attr('href')); }); }); })( jQuery ); More from: Christopher Walsh Alabama’s large contingency had good week at 2018 NFL Combine On the Beat: Butch Jones to Alabama as an analyst shouldn’t surprise anyone Is Alabama in or out for NCAA Tournament field? Depends on which bracketologist you ask ‘This house represents, to me, a lot more than that gold trophy does’ The 3-pointer: Alabama’s season on brink after 68-66 loss at Texas A&M var mapping = []; mapping.push( [[1175, 1], [728, 90]] ); mapping.push( [[1, 1], [300, 250]] ); var adWidget = { sponsorId: ', conference: ', contentType: ', slotId: 'AS06', containerId: 'widget-ad-AS06', sizes: [[728, 90], [300, 250]], mapping: mapping, hideIfSponsored: false, isContentResponsive: false, display: 'Both' }; //console.log(adWidget); if (adWidget.slotId && adWidget.slotId !== ') { _cmg_registered_custom_ads.push(adWidget); } window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({article:'auto'}); !function (e, f, u) { e.async = 1; e.src = u; f.parentNode.insertBefore(e, f); }(document.createElement('script'), document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0], '//cdn.taboola.com/libtrc/cox-network/loader.js'); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push( { mode: 'thumbnails-q', container: 'taboola-below-article-thumbnails', placement: 'Below Article Thumbnails', target_type: 'mix' } ); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({flush: true}); Listen to SEC Country’s Alabama podcast Get the latest Alabama News Don't miss breaking news!Sign up for the SEC Country Alabama Newsletter! 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