Freed Jayson Williams Seeks Redemption in Others, Self

It has been a decade since Jayson Williams’ choice life turned into something he never could have imagined. On Valentine’s Day in 2002, Williams, former NBA star, killed limousine driver Costas Christofi, the limousine driver he accidentally killed on Feb. 14, 2002 when a shotgun he was handling misfired.

After years of legal delays, in 2010 Williams pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated assault, which carried a maximum sentence of five years. He would not be eligible for parole until serving at least 18 months.

Williams, 44, was released from New Jersey State Prison in August 2011 after serving the minimum sentence. But, while in prison, he was convicted of a separate DWI charge for an incident that took place in New York just a week prior to his guilty plea in the shooting case. So instead of being a free man, he was transferred to Rikers Island to serve an additional one-year sentence behind bars. In April, after eight months of good behavior, Williams was finally released from jail.

Recently, Williams spent time talking to ESPN about that night that changed his life, prison and his new life, among other things. Here are snippets of what the Williams had to say:

* On being in prison: The only one that brought me peace and comfort being locked in a cage and trying to forgive myself and have other people forgive me was God. People are gonna read this article and say, everybody who goes to prison finds God. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But one of the things I wanted to make sure I did in prison, I wanted to be remorseful, I wanted to repent — to change truly, to be a better person every day — and I wanted to reform. And when I got out I wanted God to give me resolution.

* On playing basketball in prison: The games were quite competitive — some very athletic people in prison — but there was a whole lot of arguing. Every call went with an argument, sometimes a fight.

* On writing his book, Humbled: Letters From Prison: I actually had a seven-digit advance to write a salacious book with the No. 1 literary agent. And I spoke to a famous person who told me I got too much God in my book. I had to make a decision: Do I want to make this a Hollywood bestseller, “Shawshank Redemption,” or do I just want to let go and let God? I self-published it, and let go and let God. The book’s proceeds go to charity.

On his struggles: I struggle with the loss of lives. The loss of Mr. Christofi and the loss of my father. An hour doesn’t go by that I don’t think about [the accident], think about how can I replay this as to bring back Mr. Christofi.  . . And not one person died that night, two people died. My dad had never been in the hospital in 70 years. That’s the ripple effect. I can do the time, but can my father do it? No. Can my kids do it? No. … Because of prison I haven’t seen my kids in years.

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