By Lyka Jazmin Dela Cruz and James Emmanuel Santua
For Kelly Williams, the decision to retire for the second time in September 2020 made him realize that his heart still wanted to compete and play.
On July 17, Williams made his comeback in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup and logged seven points and five rebounds in his first official game since 2019.
In an interview with the Manila Standard, the former Most Valuable Player and six-time champion said that Chot Reyes coming back as TNT Tropang Giga’s head coach played a big role for him to come out of retirement.
“When the news came out that Coach Chot Reyes had come back to TNT, it piqued my interest once again. Once Coach Chot and I discussed the possibilities over dinner, I knew that it was an opportunity that I didn't want to pass on,” Williams said.
Although Williams retired, thoughts of coming back to play once again for his team kept coming back in his mind, but the notion of not going back seems to be heavier in his mind.
“After retirement, I went back and forth with the idea of going back to play. Though I knew I could physically play for a few more years at a high level, I was leaning more towards not playing anymore,” he added.
Now that Williams is back in action, he makes sure that he is not forcing himself to be as impressive as before because for him, taking things slow and not overworking his body are the keys for him to make a memorable PBA comeback.
“I am taking it slow and making sure I'm not overworking my body. I'm 39 years old and I haven't played in an official PBA game since late 2019. So, it's going to take some time to get my rhythm and feel for the game back. Now, I'm just staying in the gym and keeping my body in the best shape I can while going through the pains of reconditioning myself for basketball,” he said.
Williams also applauded the staff of TNT Katropa because according to him, they always make sure that he can slowly get back and be in condition to play in the PBA once again. He also expressed that his coaches and teammates are very patient and supportive of him throughout the process.
Along with his PBA comeback, Williams found another way to reach and inspire people by creating his own YouTube Channel with its theme, “Rise with Kel”.
Williams said that after coming back from a health scare from 2009, he felt a pull to encourage people to push past their limits and circumstances.
The return to action despite a rare blood condition named idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, which he was diagnosed with in 2009, is undoubtedly one of William’s greatest battles.
“Creating a Youtube channel has been one of the things I wanted to do for the longest time, but I didn't have the capacity to start it. However, if this pandemic has taught me anything, it's that whatever you want to do, you need to just do it, ready or not, because tomorrow isn't promised.” Williams said.
“I just wanted to encourage people to stay hopeful and keep moving forward when they are going through tough times. My goal is to reach as many people as I can with the message: no matter what happens in our lives, we can find ways to rise,” he added.