By Vicky Nguyen
It was summer, and Roderick Williams was fifteen years old on the first day he picked up a basketball.
He played basketball for a couple of hours that day with friends in his backyard.
They ended up playing every day for the rest of the summer.
Williams, now 20 years old, is a small forward for East Los Angeles College and has been awarded player of the year of the South Coast Conference twice.
He is now getting ready to transfer in the fall after being signed by the Boise State men’s basketball team.
As a teenager, Williams continued playing basketball because he saw the opportunities it would open to him.
In addition to his aspirations for the National Basketball Association, Williams said that he plans to become a cardiologist and plans to get a master’s degree and a doctorate in cardiology.
In high school, Williams said he did well in anatomy, chemistry and biology courses.
He said that he would get mad if he got less than an A.
He also was interested in the cardiovascular system.
Williams said that some people find cardiology and basketball a strange combination, but he doesn’t mind.
“They’ll look at you crazy,” Williams said.
He said that he isn’t deterred by negative reactions and he is used to people looking down on him.
Williams said that when he was late for a class during his sophomore year of high school, a teacher looked him straight in the eyes and said, “You’ll never be anything.”
Williams said he is better motivated internally.
He said he is driven to prove his worth to himself rather than to others.
Williams said that he was influenced by “My Life: Based on the Book Gifted Hands,” by Neurosurgeon and Politician Ben Carson.
Williams said he could relate to many of Carson’s struggles growing up in a bad neighborhood and was inspired by Carson’s perseverance.
“I think my goals are pretty high, but that’s how I like it. I like setting myself up for success,” Williams said.
Head basketball coach John Mosley said Williams is a passionate individual who has a clear idea of what he wants to do.
“He’s got a motor. He’s consistent. He’s well-liked on campus,” Mosley said.
Williams said that he finds value and strength in his engagement with people.
“They create networks,” Williams said, “Being around winning people, being around dudes who are successful ‒ that’s what I want to surround myself with.”
He said, however, that it’s not all about networking.
During emotional times, Williams said his coaches and teammates were there to support him and make him a better person.
Williams said that he was also affected by men in his community who looked out for him in his younger years.
It’s important for him to give back by doing the same.
He has volunteered with organizations that help abused women, foster kids and homeless people.
He said that his desire to help others is what motivates him to become a cardiologist.