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Ray Williams, former NY Knicks guard, dies of colon cancer

Ray Williams (13) of New York Knicks moves

Ray Williams (13) of New York Knicks moves down the court as Pete Marcvich (7) and James Hardy (11) and other New Orleans Jazz player try to close in during their NBA game Thursday night in the Louisiana Superdome. (Oct. 27, 1978) Photo Credit: UPI/

Ray Williams, a former Mount Vernon basketball star who went on to play for the New York Knicks, died Friday of colon cancer, the NBA has confirmed.

He was 58.

Williams' life story was perhaps more memorable than his NBA career. He sprung into the spotlight -- after graduating from Mount Vernon High School -- during a 10-year professional run with six teams, including the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Williams was drafted 10th overall out of Minnesota in 1977 by the Knicks, playing two stints with the team. He signed with the Nets as a free agent in 1981 and then was traded to the Kansas City Kings before he was traded back to the Knicks in 1983. He then played for Boston, Atlanta and San Antonio before being traded to the Nets where he finished his career after the 1986-87 season.

When he retired in 1987, Williams battled bankruptcy following a slew of bad investments, according to published reports, eventually finding himself homeless, sleeping in old vehicles in Pompano Beach, Fla., for more than a year.

To get back on his feet, former teammates from the Boston Celtics supplied him with cash. The then-mayor of Mount Vernon, Clinton Young, hired him as his assistant and he soon remarried.

He died at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

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