‘You Can’t Give In’: Monty Williams On Life After Tragedy

‘You Can’t Give In’: Monty Williams On Life After Tragedy

 

The low point came last March. Or maybe it was April. Monty Williams isn’t sure. Time blurs.

For two weeks Micah and Elijah passed the stomach flu back and forth, as five- and eight-year-olds do. They threw up on the carpet, in the bed, on the bathroom floor. Everywhere but in the toilet and the trash can. Finally one night, well after midnight, they combined for a particularly messy episode. As his three teenage daughters slept in nearby rooms, Monty—who’d spent a lifetime in basketball, first as a player and then as a coach, most recently as an assistant for the Thunder—stumbled out of bed and herded the boys into the shower, then into clean pajamas and back to sleep. Next he cleaned the rug, scrubbed the tile floor and disinfected the toilet. He longed to go back to bed but knew Ingrid never would have left the sheets to sit overnight in the laundry room, clumped with all that sickness. Which meant he couldn’t either. He’d promised the kids nothing in their day-to-day lives would change. If anyone’s life was going to change, he’d said, it would be his.

So at 2:30 a.m., Monty trudged downstairs and out the back door into the cold Oklahoma night, where he hung the sheets over the fence. As he hosed them down he shivered and stared up at the sky, feeling lost. He was supposed to be sleeping next to his wife, or watching film, or on the road with his team.

Instead he was here, alone and overwhelmed. How in the world is this my life? he wondered.


The morning of Feb. 9, 2016, began like so many others. Monty awoke at 7:00, still groggy from the previous night’s flight back from Phoenix, where the Thunder had beaten the Suns. Ingrid was already downstairs, conquering the morning. They’d been together 26 years, through five kids and eight cities, and he remained in awe of her. While many NBA wives contracted out the more mundane duties of parenting, Ingrid would not consider hiring a cook, a cleaner or a nanny. On game nights she bundled up the kids and brought them to the arena, but only after their homework was done. Then, at the end of the first quarter—sharp—they’d file out, because Dad may be an NBA coach, but nothing overrules bedtime.

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