Williams gives back to community

NEW YORK -- Deron Williams wore a different uniform on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn: one that didn't include a jersey, shorts and sneakers.

Seated inside a conference room at the Ingersoll Community Center, the Nets point guard sported a chef's hat and an apron, watching the Arizona-Oregon college football game on television as he waited for his latest opportunity to give back to the community.

From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Williams and volunteers from his "Point of Hope Foundation" served Thanksgiving meals to 2,000 Brooklyn residents from the New York Housing Authority.

"It's good to be able to give back -- especially around this time," Williams told ESPNNewYork.com. "Thanksgiving is a time for giving, and I just wanted to try to feed some families. We're working with eight different housing developments close to the Barclays Center. So it's just about being able to give back, spend some time and have fun."

Last year, Williams held a similar event at St. John's Bread & Life, a Brooklyn food bank. When he was in Utah, Williams partnered with the Jazz to feed about 3,000 homeless people every Thanksgiving.

Asked about making a difference given his stature, Williams replied, "I don't think that matters really. I think we're in a great position where we're able to give back. And it's something I like doing. This community definitely supports us, so, in turn, we want to be able to give back to them and show our appreciation for their support."

Williams founded his Point of Hope Foundation with his wife, Amy, following the conclusion of his second NBA season (2006-07).

"Going into my rookie year, Kenny Thomas invited me to his charity golf tournament in New Mexico," Williams said. "I went down there, and I'd never really played golf before. But I had fun, and I kind of realized that I wanted to do something like this and give back to the community and I started a golf tournament."

Seven years later, the foundation has continued to grow, creating opportunities to help raise funds for children in need and supporting cancer research, children with autism, different scholarship funds, single mother organizations, Boys & Girls Club and a number of different children's organizations through grants and donations.

The signature event of Williams' foundation has become his "Dodge Barrage" Dodgeball Tournament, which was held in September.

Williams was supporting autism awareness before his adopted 4-year-old son, Deron Jr. or "D.J." was diagnosed with the disorder about two years ago. Deron and Amy also have three other children, daughters Denae, 10 and Daija, 7, and son Desmond, 2.

"[D.J.'s] doing a lot better," Williams said. "We're being very proactive in getting him his help and the therapy that he needs: speech therapy, physical therapy, O.T. therapy. Everything you can think of we're doing for him. He's definitely he's a smart kid, probably one of the smartest at his age, but there's some things where he's not up to par with a normal 4-year-old. So that's the biggest challenge is behavior issues and social issues."

Williams said he was in denial when he learned that D.J. had autism.

"My wife realized it sooner than I did, and I just didn't believe her," Williams said.

But Williams noticed D.J. always repeated the same name, "Flint Lockwood," a character in the children's movie, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."

"When I was reading up on autism, one of the things autistic kids do is they repeat stuff a lot," Williams said. "So every morning when he'd wake up, he would say 'Flint Lockwood.' Every time I woke him up, whether it was from a nap or in the morning. I thought it was cute, so I'd always say it back to him. But that was the moment after reading the stuff, that I thought, 'Yeah, he does have it.'"

Williams felt a range of emotions after coming to that realization.

"What are you gonna do? You're sad. You wonder if your kid's ever gonna get married, ever gonna have a family, ever gonna get to do normal things that other kids his age are doing," Williams said. "You wonder if he's gonna get picked on, so there's just a lot of things that go through your mind. But it's been a good experience. I feel lucky."

Williams and D.J. are often inseparable.

"He definitely loves his dad. He's daddy's boy. Always has been," Williams said. "We have a great relationship."

Williams says his family means the world to him.

"I feel like I'm blessed," he said. "I have an amazing wife and kids, I'm lucky."

Williams currently lives with his family in downtown Manhattan. He's taken the subway to Barclays Center for the team's first three home games; it's about a 15-minute ride.

"I could live anywhere," said Williams, who grew up near Dallas and has also resided in rural West Virginia, Illinois and Utah. "It's just different. They're all different lifestyles. This is definitely different. There are a lot of things that are convenient. There's a lot of things that are challenging, having four kids in the city. It can be tough at times, it can be frustrating. Sometimes you walk outside and you don't want to see people very inch, but there's a lot of great things in New York as well."