Skip to Content

Coach Roy Williams has deep mountain roots, including the job that jumpstarted his career


Click here for updates on this story

    SWANNANOA, North Carolina (WLOS) — One of the greatest college basketball coaches in history began his journey at Owen High School, and announced Thursday, April 1, that he will now close his basketball journey at UNC Chapel Hill.

Legendary UNC coach Roy Williams retired Thursday with former Owen player Porky Spencer on-hand, a sign that Williams never forgot where he came from.

Those who know him — a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee who led the Tar Heels to three national championship titles — know no amount of success or fame ever got in the way of Williams being loyal to his WNC roots.

He was 22 when he took the job at Owen, leading the Warhorses from 1973 to 1978.

“He had a lot of energy, a lot of fire,” said former player Tim Raines, who is now the assistant girls basketball coach at Owen. “Of course, that hasn’t changed over the years. But he was wonderful, he cared a lot about his players. He loved his players.”

One moment in particular showed just how much he cared. Raines recalls when and how Williams announced he was leaving to become an assistant for iconic Coach Dean Smith.

“He gathered us all together and gave us the news,” Raines recalled. “He was really upset about it. And we were like, ‘Coach we love you, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'”

Williams’s mountain roots run deep.

Back in 2011, the City of Marion dedicated a historic marker in his honor. That’s where Williams was born in 1950.

“It’s sad in a way to hear of his retirement, but we’re happy as well,” said city manager Bob Boyette, who is also a UNC alumni. “For Marion, he was born here and except for the Duke fans, most people would consider him our favorite native son.“

He graduated from TC Roberson. The 1968 yearbook includes photos of him playing basketball and baseball. Williams was also on the homecoming court and was student body president — and even dabbled in square dancing.

His old yearbook images may have been taken a lifetime ago, but the Roy Williams folks knew then is much like the Coach Williams beloved by players and fans today.

“His legacy is going to be the way he handled himself, the way he lived his life with dignity and respect,” Raines said. “You know, he’s never had any scandals — and the fact that he’s in the basketball Hall of Fame.”

At the end of the day, Williams is revered as one of the all-time greats and a Hall of Fame human being.

“And he’s just an average guy,” Boyette said, “who just happens to be one of the best basketball coaches in the history of the sport.”

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Article Topic Follows: National-World

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content