Pro football players, basketball players and entertainers squared up for tip-off on June 30 for a charity basketball game to fund a foundation bearing the name of Baltimore Ravens wide receiver LaQuan Williams.
Supporters of the LaQuan Williams Foundation converged on the gym at Stevenson University in Owings Mills to catch the action. Players included Williams’ teammates receiver Torrey Smith, quarterback Tyrod Taylor, defensive back Ladarius Webb and receiver Anthony Allen. Others included guard Josh Selbey of the Memphis Grizzlies, forward Donte Green of the Sacramento Kings, and wide receiver Antoine “Shaky” Smithson of the Green Bay Packers.
Williams, a Baltimore native and graduate of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (BPI), founded the charity in 2012 following his rookie season with the Ravens. He said he was motivated by his experiences growing up in the streets of Baltimore and hopes to give young people an alternative to drugs and gangs by providing tutoring and mentoring services, health and wellness programs, physical education initiatives and transitional opportunities.
“It’s rare for someone to play for their home team. He’s from this city so it’s a lot of things he understands that a lot of people from the outside wouldn’t know,” said Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith, who also played with Williams at the University of Maryland, College Park. “He knows what the problems are first hand.”
Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Ravens in 2011, Williams made the team despite a short offseason because of the NFL lockout. He played safety and quarterback for BPI and, as a junior, was named second-team All-City. He was a first-team All-City defensive back as a senior. He went on to play Z-receiver at College Park.
Before and after the game Williams and other players posed for photos with fans and signed autographs.
“It’s just the support that give us, so anything we can do to give back to them and show them that we really care is definitely a good thing,” said Taylor.
Williams said he hopes the game will become an annual event.
“The biggest thing is changing the community,” he said of his goal. “I really want to affect our community. In Baltimore, I guess you can say, there’s a whole negative connotation area. I just want to change that and motivate kids to do something positive with their life.”