Growing Up ... Mo Williams

by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

They’ve always had talent, but what were the Cavaliers like before they became rich and gigantic and famous?

Today, we look back at the beginnings of the man who once tortured the Wine and Gold, but is now one of the most valuable pieces of the Cavaliers’ run at the ring – Mo Williams.

In today's Growing Up, the Cavaliers’ sharpshooting point guard talks about his other sports, getting toughened up by an older brother and at what point he knew he might turn out as good as he has ...

My hometown is … Jackson, Mississippi.

I went to … Murrow High School, which produced the likes of Lindsay Hunter, Othella Harrington and “Hollywood” James Robinson – just to name a few.

I’d say my best coaches growing up were … Fred Williams and James Wright. They had me since I was eight years old. They taught me everything. The right way to play. (“Use the left hand.”) They taught me all the fundamentals of the game.

On a professional level … I’d say Jerry Sloan – by far.

All my brothers and sisters … were active in sports. My sister, who’s five years older than me, played volleyball and basketball through high school and my older brother played football at West Point. My younger brother played baseball through high school.

The other sport I played … was baseball. I played baseball my whole life. Actually that’s my favorite sport. It’s my best sport, to be honest. I was a shortstop.

I played football … up until my eighth grade year, when I got hit real hard. I mean, I could take a hit, but I took that one in the knee and it stretched my ligament.

At that point, I just thought … about the other sports – basketball and baseball. And a serious injury in football would keep me from playing anything else. So I let football go after that.

Basketball was … a better avenue for me. I came from a basketball high school. I had all the accolades nationally in basketball. Statewide, I was big in baseball – but not nationally. I didn’t play on “the AAU’s of baseball.” I played in a few things that showed what I had. But I didn’t put the emphasis on baseball that I did on basketball.

I knew I had to choose one … that was a better avenue for me. And where I’m from – the inner city – basketball overrules baseball.

My older brother is … 11 years older than me, so yeah, he picked on me. He was bigger than me and he played baseball and football. So he was stronger than me.

Between the two of us … it was always fun and games. Until I got mad, that is. Then, it was only fun and games for him.

I’ve always been … a point guard. But since I could score the ball so well growing up, I played a little of both guards. That’s why my game is how it is: I can distribute and get other people involved, but I can also find my own shot because every team I grew up playing on, I kind of had to do both.

I first thought I could be a professional … probably during my sophomore year in college. That’s when I matured as a basketball player. I’m hard on myself. (I’m one of those people who never think they’re as good as they are.) I always want to leave room for improvement, even now. So, my sophomore year is when I decided to give it a shot.

Everything didn’t work out …perfectly during the Draft, but it’s worked out pretty well for me today.