Monty Williams urged forgiveness in an emotional eulogy at the funeral of his wife Ingrid on Thursday in Oklahoma City, where a contingent of NBA coaches and players attended in support.
Williams’ wife died Feb. 10 from injuries sustained a day earlier in an accident when her car was struck head-on by an SUV that crossed the center line after losing control. The other driver, 52-year-old Susannah Donaldson, also died.
Williams said that while everybody is praying for him and his family, “let’s not forget there were two people in this situation, and that family needs prayer as well. … We hold no ill will toward the Donaldson family.”
Williams said his wife is where “we all need to be, and I’m envious of that. But I got five crumb snatchers to deal with,” he said, referring to his children and drawing laughter from the mourners.
The couple’s children are Lael, Faith, Janna, Elijah and Micah. Williams and his wife met while both attended Notre Dame, where she competed in track and field. They were married for 20 years and co-wrote a book together, “Look Again 52” as a guide to explore the Bible throughout a year.
“It’s not over for him, he’s got five kids,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It was almost a celebration but for a sad reason.”
Besides Rivers, among those in attendance at Crossings Community Church were Chris Paul and Austin Rivers of the Clippers, coach Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, David West and general manager R.C. Buford of the Spurs, and the entire Thunder organization.
Williams played for Popovich in San Antonio and Duncan is a former teammate.
“That was probably one of the most powerful moments of my life, sitting there and listening to him have the strength to stand there in front of his children and ask everybody to pray for the other lady that lost her life,” West said after he returned to Los Angeles. “I thought that showed strength and courage I’ve never experienced in my life. Our hearts are with him. He’s clearly one of the best people I know. I don’t think I could be as strong as he is in that kind of situation.”
Paul, who knows Williams from his time playing in New Orleans, called him “a special, special man.”
“I told him he ain’t always got to be the strong one,” Paul said. “He’s all about family, strong in his faith. You could see from the outpouring how strong he is and how much he’s loved. We all could learn something from him.”
Doc Rivers missed his pre-game availability while traveling back to Los Angeles. Popovich arrived at Staples Center in time to meet the media, but declined to discuss the funeral.
Austin Rivers played for Williams when he coached in New Orleans.
“It was tough to see something like that happen to such a good guy,” he said. “Ingrid is one of the sweetest people I ever met.”
Austin Rivers said Williams gave an “incredible” eulogy for his wife, who was 44.
“He probably was one of the strongest guys in there,” he said. “I just told him we all love him.”
SOURCE: AP – Beth Harris