Tragic death of NBA coach's wife Ingrid Williams and a missing element in the news

That could have been my wife.

Rightly or wrongly, many of us tend to judge tragedy by how close to home it strikes.

For me, that's the case with the death of Ingrid Williams, wife of Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams.

Ingrid Williams was 44, about the same age as my wife. She was driving with her kids — about the same age as mine — on an Oklahoma City street that my family travels often. She was an innocent victim — hit head-on by a vehicle that veered into her lane. She also was a person of strong Christian faith:

In its initial coverage, The Oklahoman reported the news this way:

Ingrid Williams, the wife of Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams died Wednesday from injuries suffered in a multiple-vehicle car crash Tuesday in Oklahoma City.
“The Thunder organization has heavy hearts tonight with the news of Ingrid's passing,” the Thunder said in a statement released Wednesday evening. “Words cannot adequately describe how deep our sorrow is for the loss of Monty's wife.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Monty and his family, and we will support him in every way possible. We know the entire community of Oklahoma City has them in their prayers.”
The 44-year-old was traveling with three of her children north on S Western Avenue around 8 p.m. Tuesday when her sports utility vehicle was struck head-on by a southbound car which went left of center. The driver of the car, Susannah Donaldson, 52, was pronounced dead at the scene. Donaldson's dog was riding in her lap and was also killed. Mai Nguyen, 59, was driving a third vehicle that was hit by the car driven by Donaldson. Nguyen was not injured. All parties involved were wearing seat belts.
Ingrid Williams was taken to OU Medical Center where she was treated for life-threatening injuries. She died Wednesday morning.

In reading media coverage of Ingrid Williams' death, it's clear she was an amazing woman who touched countless lives — including players with the Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans, where her husband served as head coach from 2010 to 2015:

In the print edition of today's Oklahoman, the main column on last night's 121-95 Thunder win over the Pelicans highlights players' reactions to Ingrid Williams' passing. "The Thunder used basketball as catharsis," the column said.

But another column in today's paper focuses on the "wide-ranging impact" of Monty and Ingrid Williams:

After learning of the news, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, Williams' former boss, couldn't even show up for his pregame media session then fought back tears in his postgame gathering. Stephen Curry tweeted about the "unimaginable tragedy" from Toronto. Laker legend Magic Johnson sent his prayers, saying “the NBA family is truly devastated.”
From the bigger names, like Chris Paul, to the smaller ones, like Nicolas Batum and Marco Belinelli, it seemed as though everyone was affected by the news. Because it seems at every stop, tentacles that stretch from San Antonio to Portland to New Orleans to OKC to his work with the national team, Monty had an affect on others.
"To me," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said, "that's just a reflection on the man he is and the wife and mother and person Ingrid is and the way he raised his family.”
When he was in New Orleans, Anthony Morrow, now with the Thunder, had a family member suddenly die. He said both Monty and Ingrid were crucial in getting him through it.
“She was like the person you could always go to with anything,” Morrow said. “Coach Williams as well. Those two are the standard when it comes to marriage, to being believers. It's inspirational. I feel like I lost a family member.”

Here at GetReligion, we talk about "holy ghosts" in media coverage. By that, we mean scenarios where glimpses of "facts and stories and faces linked to the power of religious faith" appear just below the surface — but don't actually make their way into the printed ink.

Such ghosts are evident with The Oklahoman's coverage of Ingrid Williams' death. The newspaper doesn't come out and say it, but the huge role of faith in the lives of Monty and Ingrid Williams seems obvious:

If you want to read about Ingrid Williams' passing from the perspective of someone who "gets" religion, check out this column by Ken Trahan of

Good things come to those who wait. For Monty and Ingrid Williams, the blessing of meeting each other, knowing each other, serving each other, raising five children and serving the Lord of their life is an awesome love story.
The story took Williams from Notre Dame to the NBA as a player for 10 seasons and Williams, a man who believes all things are ordained, found himself in New Orleans as head coach of the New Orleans Hornets and Pelicans from 2010-2015.
Life is a journey, filled with many euphoric moments of joy, interspersed with the daily grind to support oneself and a family. Unfortunately, it is a trek also littered with many difficult, trying, even tragic moments.
Tragedy struck in its fiercest form Wednesday when Ingrid Williams died following an automobile accident in Oklahoma City, where Monty Williams now serves as an assistant coach of the Thunder. She was 44.
As a man of faith, Monty Williams has steadfastly believed that the trip was all about being the best he could be, serving others, serving God and claiming his ultimate prize in eternity. That is where Ingrid resides now.

You might want to grab a tissue before you read Trahan's full column.

That could have been my wife.

Please respect our Commenting Policy