Roy Williams 'blessed' to be on mend

Updated: October 1, 2012, 12:59 PM ET
By Robbi Pickeral | ESPN.com

North Carolina coach Roy Williams told the Tar Heel Sports Network that he went through a scary time last month as he prepared to have a tumor removed from his right kidney. But, the Hall of Fame coach said, he felt like "a blessed human being" after learning last week that the tumor was benign.

Williams will have a biopsy on a tumor on his left kidney this week.

"You hear all these stories where people say it just hits you between the eyes, and I've always heard that,'' Williams said Saturday during halftime of the Tar Heels' football game. "But there's no way to prepare for it, there's no way to say, 'Well, things are going to be all right,' because then your mind just starts racing, and you have so many thoughts going through your mind, (like) 'What am I going to do today, tomorrow? When am I going to do this?'

"It's pretty emotional at times, but I got such great care at the hospital, and the outpouring from the North Carolina people, and the other people in the coaching profession, my friends, my foxhole buddies, have just been off the charts."

Williams, 62, said he chose to wait to tell his players about his Sept. 19 surgery until 10 p.m. the night before he was going to have it because he didn't want there to be too much speculation about his health. He also wanted his announcement to be a teaching lesson.

"I just talked to the team and the staff about how life doesn't always give you everything like you want it, (that) you've got to overcome some adversity,'' Williams said. "And I was so confident in my staff that they would handle things with the kids. The kids were great. It was a little emotional, but at the same time, it was one of those things where a lot of guys can say they have the best coaching staff in America. But nobody can say it with the conviction that Roy Williams does."

Williams said he feels like "a blessed human being," and although there hasn't been a lot of pain, he feels quite a bit of discomfort post-surgery. He said he doesn't have a lot of energy but made it to the office every day last week for at least an hour.

"This week, we're going to have a biopsy and see what it says on the other kidney, and then we'll make some decisions after that as to what will be done next,'' he said. "The original plan was two surgeries, so I've mentally prepared myself to do that. If anything comes out better than that, I'll feel like I birdied the last hole, and I keep playing."

Doctors have said that if the tumor on his left kidney is also benign, another surgery to remove it would not be required. If it does need to be removed, Williams would miss some practice time, but likely no games.

UNC tips off its preseason with "Late Night With Roy Williams" on Oct. 12, and despite his ailments, the coach told the radio network that he's been thinking plenty about basketball and his team.

"I have, because it's the worst thing in the world. I say, 'What can I do to get better?'" he said. "And they say 'Nothing.' If I wanted to get better as a shooter, I'd shoot more, I'd dribble more, whatever. So I've been bored stiff. I've had a lot of time to do a lot of thinking, and I've come in and watched the guys do the preseason conditioning.

"And Wanda [Williams' wife] has figured out with these 10 days, counting the surgery, that she might not be willing for me to retire so soon. Ten days to spend with me, she said maybe I ought to coach another 20 years. So there's been some good things here, too."

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