From Teammates to Housemates: Williams Thankful Walker Opened his Doors

BOSTON – After the NBA hiatus began in mid-March, it was Grant Williams’ desire to head home to Charlotte, North Carolina, where the warmer weather and the lighter COVID-19 regulations would allow him to maximize his goal of staying in shape.

The rookie Celtics forward was apprehensive to head there, however, as he did not want to risk the safety of his family, and particularly that of his elderly grandparents, during the global pandemic.

That’s when Kemba Walker, who also happens to be a Charlotte resident, came to the rescue.

“He said, ‘If you want, you can stay with me,’” Williams told members of the media during a Zoom conference call Thursday afternoon. “So, I took him up on the offer and I'm thankful for him for that. For as much as I talk, I'm glad that he even considered it. So, we’ve been just lifting together occasionally, and he has a court outside, so we’ve been able to shoot, too.”

Throughout their time together, Williams and Walker have made it a point to follow social-distancing guidelines. They give each other space whether they’re in the gym, shooting, or simply existing inside the house.

Williams even had enough awareness to bring two of his own basketballs down from Boston so that they are not sharing equipment.

“We try our best to limit our contact as much as we can, especially during these times,” Williams insisted. “We’re just trying to stay healthy and to get our bodies right and get our minds right as well.”

Staying in shape during this unprecedented time is particularly important for a rookie, as having one’s first year of professional development interrupted for a prolonged period is far from ideal.

Though at the same time, Williams feels like he’s prepared to tackle such a challenge since he found himself in a similar scenario not too long ago.

“If you look back at my pre-draft process, it reminds me of that,” Williams recalled of last spring after graduating from the University of Tennessee. “You’re isolated on your own. You’re trying to stay active, but you’re not playing live basketball much other than when you have your occasional workout … It definitely helps that I’m only a year removed from that.”

Williams is also only a year removed from having college roommates, so living with a teammate has been a nice experience as well. It’s especially enjoyable when that teammate is a low-key, pleasant person to be around.

“Oh, he’s great,” Williams described of Walker. “He’s comfortable, he’s very to himself, he just relaxes a lot and takes care of himself – not really high maintenance or anything like that. He's a great dude in general – one of the best human beings that I've met throughout this process.”

Williams is hopeful that the next step of the process will include the long-awaited return of NBA basketball. The league is currently discussing possible scenarios that could allow teams to resume play, any of which Williams trusts would be safe and logical.

“I feel like we’re all professionals and we definitely trust not only each other, but the league, and they’re going to do their best to protect us,” Williams said. “I feel like they wouldn't ask us to come back unless they had every precaution they needed. They're going to keep everything clean and make sure that we're well-put and able to do things that we can as well as be understanding that guys have those concerns. And they’re going to help mitigate the risk as much as possible.

“So, I feel like for myself at least, I know I can say that I trust not only the Celtics in what they’re going to provide with our facility when it’s all set and ready to go, but the same with the league. When it comes to where we play and when we play, they’re going to have every single thing locked down.”

Until then, Williams will remain locked down in Charlotte, where he can maintain his conditioning and refine his skills all while enjoying the company of his generous teammate and host, Walker.

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