At 16 years old, Jake Williams was hit by a car while out riding his bike in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He suffered a spinal cord injury that left him in a wheelchair. He explains the physical and mental pain he had after the accident was the hardest experience of his entire life. Things began to turn around when Williams picked up the sport of wheelchair basketball and quickly got addicted to the adrenaline and the rush of playing.
“It was the number one thing that helped me get out of my negative mindset. It was hard and a lot of work and a lot of practice hours but meeting kids my age and sharing similar experiences and situations helped me recover and they were key,” said Williams.
Williams played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater after a friend who played at Wisconsin gave him the coach’s number and encouraged him to try out. He decided to go all the way and in 2013 he won gold at the America’s Cup Qualifier in Bogota, Colombia. The next year, he returned to UW-Whitewater and helped win the NWBA intercollegiate National Championships.
Fast forward two years, and Williams had reached the apex of his career. Selected as a part of the 2016 U.S. Paralympic team. Team USA had dominating performances for the eight-game stretch of the Rio Games. Williams provided a spark of offense with a three-pointer that gave them a clutching lead for the gold-medal victory over Spain.
This was William’s first trip to the Paralympics and no better way to finish. This was a taste that left a strong urge for more with Williams. He looks to train through the next four years and return to the top of the podium once again in 2020.