It is always nice to see professional athletes giving back to the community, it is even nicer when they play for your team. Ravens’ wide receiver LaQuan Williams’ did just that this weekend by hosting the 1st Annual LaQuan Williams Celebrity Basketball Game at Stevenson University in Owings Mills. He also hosted a launch party Friday night at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood in Dundalk.
Williams’ charity, The LaQuan Williams Foundation (LWF) provides structural programming for adolescents and youth in Baltimore.
The launch party was an informal gathering of Williams’ friends and fans. Ravens teammate Torrey Smith was in attendance as well as fellow UMD graduate and former Sacramento Kings forward, Walt Williams. WNST’s own Nestor Aparicio also made a brief appearance at the party.
Attendees had the chance to bid on signed jerseys and photographs of Ravens including Williams, Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco. There were also games and complimentary appetizers. Fans had the opportunity to meet the players and interact with them in an intimate setting.
The celebrity basketball game, played on June 30, also raised funds for Williams’ Foundation. All proceeds from the game, concessions and silent auction went to LWF. The game featured professional athletes and entertainers.
Some of the professional football VIP guests included Ravens’ Torrey Smith, Lardarius Webb and Tyrod Taylor, Houston Texan Bryant Johnson and Philadelphia Eagle Jaiquwan Jerrett.
Some of the professional basketball VIP guests included Baltimore bred, Memphis Grizzlies Josh Selby, Sacramento Kings Donte Greene and Patterson High School superstar player Aquille Carr (AKA “Crime Stopper”).
I was fortunate to attend both events and I met Williams’ and Smith. I thanked Williams’ for hosting his charity events and giving back to the community. I also asked him if he had any plans for the final weeks before training camp. He replied with a “no”, said that “Monday is back to work”, now it’s time to get back to business and get ready for the upcoming season.
I was a bit star struck when I met Smith. I told him that last season he made some of my favorite and most memorable plays. I specifically referenced the game-winning touchdown he made in Pittsburgh, he was all smiles at the mention of it.
My friend continued with the Pittsburgh discussion and asked Smith if game prep was different before playing the Steelers. She told him that as fans, we feel the rivalry and wondered if the players did too. Smith said that prepping for games against Pittsburgh is different from other games, there’s more trash talking and more intense hitting and they definitely feel the rivalry.
I had fun at the basketball game, though I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a little nervous about potential injuries, thankfully no one got hurt! While Williams and Smith play hard on the field, it was cool seeing them shoot hoops with their friends and I could tell that everyone had fun playing the game.
It was awesome seeing Williams give back to his hometown. He is Baltimore born and bred, attended Poly and the University of Maryland. The Ravens signed him as an undrafted free agent last season and while he didn’t see much playing time in 2011, he will complete to be the No. 3 receiver this season.
Good luck Williams and congrats on your fundraising success.