Standing in for Bob Williams were (l-r) son Randy Williams (proudly holding his father’s 1955 Lakers’ picture); son Don Alan Williams; Bob’s two oldest children, Rasheed Bilal and Debra Williams Jones, holding the award; and Bob’s youngest daughter Casandra Williams-Sims.
Robert (Bob) Williams was one of 12 honorees to receive the 2011 Minnesota African American Heritage Calendar Award presented at the Progressive Family Life Center in St. Paul during a celebration ceremony on Saturday evening, January 29, 2011. This award celebrates the accomplishments of local African Americans and their contribution to history.
Bob’s bio and picture are featured for the month of April 2011. Bob and his wife, Marietta, are currently vacationing in Florida, so his five adult children were honored to accept this prestigious award in his absence.
Bob Williams grew up in Pensacola, Florida and played basketball at Booker T. Washington High School and Florida A&M University. He was recruited by the Minneapolis Lakers in 1955 as their first Black player and was one of just seven Black players in the National Basketball Association. That same year, Bob was featured on the cover of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Picture Magazine.
He was the Most Valuable Player in the 1955 Pan American Games and Worldwide Air Force Tournament. Bob spent his off seasons traveling around the world with the Harlem Globetrotters and legends such as Meadowlark Lemon.
Over the past several years, Fox Sports Net has run a feature piece during Black History Month on Bob outlining his basketball career. Bob is co-founder of the Twin Cities Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was inducted into their “Hall of Faith.” He is the past chairman of the board of directors of Hospitality House Boys & Girls Clubs, past president of the Minnesota State Baptist Laymen, and a member of the Black Legends of Professional Basketball.
— Photo and story submitted by Bob Williams’ family