Monty Williams

'You can't give in': an incredible story of faith and forgiveness by NBA coach after wife's tragic death

'You can't give in': an incredible story of faith and forgiveness by NBA coach after wife's tragic death

"Dude. This was a hard read. Never take anything for granted, because every normal day is a blessing."

I first heard about Sports Illustrated's in-depth feature on former Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams when my son Brady tweeted the above comment.

Then my friend Darin Campbell posted a link to the same story on Facebook with this note: "If you read one thing this week, read this." One of Campbell's friends followed his advice and replied:  "I'm not sure there is a verbal response for this."

Amen.

Suffice it to say that Sports Illustrated senior Chris Ballard dives deep and insightfully into the life and mindset of "Monty Williams, the woman he loved, and the power of persistence."

Interest in the story of Monty and Ingrid Williams has been extremely high, of course, since the tragic death of the coach's wife 14 months ago. I wrote more than 200 GetReligion posts in 2016, but my most-clicked one concerned holy ghosts in initial reporting on the Williamses.

Days later, Monty Williams' faith-filled remarks at his wife's funeral at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City rocked the sports world.

Now comes the Sports Illustrated piece, which fills in the gaps of Monty and Ingrid Williams' journey — before, during and after the events of Feb. 9, 2016 — in a way that's hard to explain.

You just have to read it:

 

 

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2016 in review: A GetReligionista reflects on his Top 10 most-viewed posts

2016 in review: A GetReligionista reflects on his Top 10 most-viewed posts

Journalists love year-end lists.

It's our way of filling holiday space with content we've already produced so we can focus on more important things, like family, Christmas lights and New Year's celebrations.

Um, just in case my boss is reading this (instead of watching "It's a Wonderful Life" for the umpteenth time), what I meant to say was: "Year in review" lists are a great way to reflect on the past year while thoughtfully looking ahead to the new one. 

I write four posts a week for GetReligion. In a year, that adds up to more than 200 times that I share my critiques of religion news coverage (or lack of coverage) by the mainstream media. 

Since you do me the courtesy of reading my posts and frequently commenting on them — both here on the website and via channels such as Twitter and Facebook — I thought you might be interested in my most-read posts of 2016. 

There's a mix of sports, politics, entertainment, human interest, Godbeat news and culture war stuff among my top 10. And yes, Donald Trump figures in two of the top three posts.

Drum roll, please ...

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A grieving husband. A stirring eulogy. The video that rocked the sports world

A grieving husband. A stirring eulogy. The video that rocked the sports world

On Friday, I drove from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, to visit my parents. Somewhere along Interstate 35 south of the Red River, I flipped the FM dial to a Dallas sports talk station.

I hoped to hear discussion of my favorite team, the Texas Rangers, arriving at spring training and the outlook for the upcoming season.

Instead, I found myself mesmerized by two sports talk hosts focused on faith and forgiveness — and the rousing eulogy that Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams gave for his wife, Ingrid, on Thursday.

"I'm jealous of someone with that kind of faith," said one of the hosts, as questions of life and death suddenly trumped draft picks, trade deadlines and even the Dallas Cowboys.

In this space 10 days ago, I pointed out holy ghosts in the initial media coverage of Ingrid Williams' death in an Oklahoma City car crash.

My previous post went a little viral, receiving thousands of clicks after Monty Williams' funeral remarks, as folks searched for more details about the family's faith.

The coach's eulogy certainly grabbed the sports world's attention:

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

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.”

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Sports Illustrated shuns the 'Christian' label in story of suicide, reality TV and hoops

Sports Illustrated shuns the 'Christian' label in story of suicide, reality TV and hoops

I don't know about you, but there are times when I can start reading a news feature and, even though there are no hints in the headlines, photographs or pull quotes, I can just tell that a religion shoe is going to drop sooner or later. 

That's how I felt when I started reading the epic Sports Illustrated story called "Love, Loss and Survival" about the struggles of New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson after his long-time girlfriend, reality-television star Gia Allemand, committed suicide. Read the opening lines of this story and see if you can spot the first clue:

The argument began, as so many do, over something small and seemingly insignificant. Ryan Anderson can’t even remember what it was. A text message? An offhand comment?
Then the quarrel grew, gaining strength. It carried over from lunch at a restaurant to the drive home, Gia Allemand’s voice growing louder. By the time Ryan dropped her at her apartment, in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, around six on the evening of Aug. 12, 2013, they’d said things they could never take back, and Gia’s anger had morphed into something else, dark yet strangely calm. Upon returning to his apartment, two long blocks away on Tchoupitoulas Street, Ryan flipped on a single light and slumped on the couch. All around were reminders of his relationship with Gia.

Spot it? 

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