The entire New Orleans Pelicans organization was left heartbroken Wednesday after learning the wife of former head coach Monty Williams had passed away from injuries sustained in an automobile accident on Tuesday night.
About an hour prior to tip-off, the horrible news began circulating throughout the Smoothie King Center. According to Jrue Holiday, he learned about the death of Ingrid Williams from Ryan Anderson after finishing his pre-game workout. Due to the enormity of the news, Holiday initially didn't believe it and had to ask five different people if it was true. Sadly, it was confirmed.
Before the Pelicans emerged out of the tunnel to face the Utah Jazz, the team had a group prayer and a moment of silence inside the locker room. Fans in attendance were alerted to the tragic news during the singing of the National Anthem, and at the behest of Tom and Gayle Benson, a moment of silence was observed.
Earlier, the Pelicans organization issued a profound statement on the passing of Ingrid Williams.
The following statement was released on behalf of New Orleans Pelicans and Saints Owners Tom and Gayle Benson:
"The New Orleans Pelicans are devastated to hear the news of Ingrid Williams’ passing. Ingrid was beloved by the Pelicans organization and the New Orleans community and will forever be remembered as one of the most generous, kind and humble individuals we’ve ever known. Our thoughts and prayers are with Monty Williams and his family during this difficult time."
At the conclusion of the game, Jennifer Hale interviewed Anthony Davis at half court and he did his best at describing his rollercoaster of emotions.
"I had a lot on my mind with Coach Monty," said Davis to FOX Sports reporter Jen Hale following the win. "That’s tough. I’m real close with him and his family. It was just weighing on me the whole first half."
"I tried to clear my mind and help the team win and worry about (the Williams situation) later," said Davis. "It’s just a tough situation for him and his family…and for all of us here too because he was part of our family."
"My first two years, she was like my second Mom. She always invited me to the house, to dinner, just to get away from everything. (She) knew I didn’t have anyone down here with me my first two years," explained Davis. "She welcomed me with open arms. She was a sweet lady and always made sure that everyone in the organization was fine. I know it’s weighing a lot on coach Monty…I don’t know how it feels, honestly. It’s a tough situation. I hope everyone keeps him and the kids kids in their prayers."
Anthony Davis concluded by stating that he would try to visit with Monty Williams once the team lands in Oklahoma City tonight. The Pelicans happen to play the Thunder Thursday night, the final game prior to the start of the 2016 All-Star break.
In his post-game interview, Alvin Gentry struggled to maintain his composure, often needing to wipe away the tears. He did manage to conclude by saying, "It’s just really, really tough when you know a guy like Monty and what he’s all about then you realize that it’s just a basketball game. That’s all it is."
A number of Pelicans took to social media to express their sorrow and condolences to the Williams family.
Completely devastated. Ingrid Williams was like a 2nd mother to me when I got to NOLA. My thoughts & prayers are with Monty & the family— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) February 11, 2016
Deepest condolences to Monty Williams and family. My heart goes out to them. Everyone please say a prayer #ripmrswilliams— Quincy Pondexter (@QuincyPondexter) February 11, 2016
Saddened to hear about the passing of Ingrid Williams. Condolences to Coach Monty Williams and his entire family.— Eric Gordon (@TheofficialEG10) February 11, 2016
Predictably, some were not ready to issue any statements including Ryan Anderson.
Ryan Anderson, the Pelicans player closest to Monty & Ingrid Williams, was not available for comment after the Jazz-Pelicans game tonight.— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) February 11, 2016
Ryan Anderson left the post-game locker room uncharacteristically early. Pelicans had a 10:30 p.m.charter flight to OKC tonight.— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) February 11, 2016
As you many recall, Anderson and Monty Williams formed a special bond following the suicide death of his girlfriend, Gia Allemand. With Anderson's parents living in Sacramento, it was the Williams family who brought Anderson to their home and comforted him in the immediate aftermath of that tragedy.
Pelicans coach Monty Williams hurrying in with a team security guard and finding Ryan slumped on the carpet, his back to the door, unable to rise. Williams dropping to his knees and hugging his player, the two men rocking back and forth.
For Williams, the night was a test of sorts. A fourth-year coach, Williams had played at Notre Dame and then for five NBA teams. He and Anderson were unusually close. Both men were Christians, and they bonded immediately despite the vast differences in their backgrounds. Williams grew up poor and once, at Notre Dame, considered suicide. That didn’t make it any easier to relate to Anderson now, however. Everyone’s pain is different.
As a crowd milled outside the apartment complex, Williams and the security guard hoisted up Ryan, who was limp and drenched with tears and sweat, too hysterical even to walk. They dragged Ryan to the elevator and then into a waiting car, the tops of his feet, still wedged into flip-flops, scraping the asphalt so hard that his toes still bear thick white calluses more than a year later.
As they drove in silence, Williams kept thinking that it was fine if he blew a game, but he couldn’t mess up now. Once home, he huddled with his wife, Ingrid, and Ryan in the family room, praying. Ingrid’s brother had committed suicide recently. She knew not to say it was going to be O.K., because it wasn’t. "This is going to be hard for a long time," she told Ryan.
It would not be surprising in the least to learn in coming days that Ryan Anderson joined Anthony Davis in meeting their former coach upon arrival to Oklahoma City.
Monty Williams, his five children and the rest of their extended family will undoubtedly sit in all of our thoughts and prayers for some time. Their loss is incomprehensible and we wish them our deepest condolences.