Nas Williams' Long Trail to Vermont

Published 12/12 2013 09:47PM

Updated 12/12 2013 11:10PM

Burlington, VT -- It's a challenge for any athlete trying to make it at a division 1 basketball program. Vermont freshman walk-on Nas Williams had it even tougher. Williams worked his way from the Harlem, New York projects to Catamount Country. 

 "Grew up around a lot of people. A lot of negativity. Gang violence." Williams told Fox 44/ABC 22. "Just a lot of people doing the wrong thing in the street. I just tried to stay away form it." 

It was his love of basketball and his talent that took Nas out of Harlem to the Rectory School in Pomfret, CT. However, his mother's persistent pneumonia became more severe, drawing Nas home. He didn't expect it was to say goodbye.

"Towards the end of the year my mom passed away." Williams recalled. "Kind of a tough thing. I was definitely shocked. Like I said I didn't know what was going on from my mom, she would hide everything from us. To me nothing was wrong I thought everything was fine. It just showed what kind of woman she was. Strong, independent. I learned a lot of things from my mom. My best friend, the person I could talk to. I definitely carried things she instilled in me to this day."

Basketball was a way to cope.

"It was just an extension, to get away, to go into my own world." Williams said. "And just forget about everything that was going on in my life. Just play and just be free."

Williams says he doesn't like thinking about the "what if's." As in, what if basketball hadn't been an option for him.

"I see a lot of kids I grew up with take the wrong path." said Williams. "Sometimes I sit down and think what if, but I try not to. I try to think of what I can do next, what I can do to better myself. I just try to think of that more than what if because when you think of what if it's like taking two steps back insted of two steps forward."

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