Liberty rookie Kamiko Williams proud of her military father
Photo credit: New York Liberty #4 Kamiko Williams (Jason DeCrow)
Kamiko Williams remembers running around the gym as a child, mimicking her father’s every move, hoping one day she could become half the basketball player he was. She credits him with teaching her everything about the game that has taken her all the way to the WNBA.
But deep within her subconscious, Williams knows she may never again see her father Vincent, who is overseas in Afghanistan.
“When my dad’s gone and my mom calls me, I try to answer the phone every time she calls because one of my biggest fears is that the phone call is going to be, ‘Your dad is gone,’ ” Kamiko Williams said.
At just 18-months old, Kamiko Williams moved with her parents to Germany, where her father was stationed on an Army base. Although Vincent Williams’ own professional basketball aspirations never came to fruition, his daughter was just 5 years old when he realized she shared his love for the game.
“One day she picked up the ball and started dribbling in the kitchen, and the whole entire time she never looked at her hands when she was switching between her left and right hand,” Vincent Williams, currently a contractor support to the U.S. Army Rapid Equipping Force, said through email correspondence.
Kamiko Williams spent 14 years in Germany observing and learning from her father, soaking up the wealth of basketball knowledge he acquired growing up on the streets of southeast Washington, D.C., while playing with the likes of Danny Ferry and Len Bias.
After returning to the U.S. as a high school sophomore and then starring at the University of Tennessee, she was selected by the Liberty in Round 2 of the 2013 WNBA draft. Kamiko Williams said the experience was extremely emotional for her father.
“I actually fell to my knees and [thanked] God for watching over her and blessing her after all she had been through,” Vincent Williams said.
As a rookie, Kamiko Williams has started six of the Liberty’s first nine games, but her dad has not seen any of them. In fact, he’s missed every season she has played since she returned to the U.S.
“He has to do what he has to do for his country,” Kamiko Williams said. “... And he provides for our family, so I can’t ask for anything better from him. He’s still a father in our lives.”
But it’s the few moments that Kamiko Williams does get to spend with her father that make his absence bearable not just for her, but for her mother and younger brother as well.
“It’s funny. It’s like he tries to come home and run things. He’s the same corny guy,” Kamiko Williams said. “He tries to make jokes and we just laugh, just to laugh. Everything goes back to normal.”
Normalcy could be returning to the Williams family sooner rather than later. Vincent Williams is scheduled to return from Afghanistan later this month, possibly for the final time.