Williams, who played at Minnesota (1975-77), is the only Gopher who was ever double-digit perfect from the free throw line in a game (12 for 12). Team co-MVP in 1976, the guard twice posted 300-points, 100-assists seasons, first in assists per game (5.7), seventh all-time in scoring average (18.9), and assists (296).
He also was one of four double-digit starters on the school’s 24-3 team, including a win over eventual national champion Marquette in 1976-77, but he didn’t qualify for post-season play because the school was on NCAA probation.
“People got their money’s worth when they saw Ray, because he was a high-wire act. He could dunk, shoot and play defense,” said Williamson. “He easily was one of the top guards in the country.”
Williams later became a first-round pick by the New York Knicks in 1977 and for six NBA teams in 10 seasons.
Williamson, who also played Gopher football (1974-77), said in a brief MSR interview last Saturday, “I met Ray back in 1975. He came in as a juco transfer. Ray was one of the most enjoyable people you could ever meet. He was one heck of an athlete and a player, but besides that, he was a good guy. He was the kind of guy that would give you the shirt off his back — people like that are hard to find.
“We stayed in touch over the years,” continued Williamson. “I talked to him about three weeks ago, and he knew he was in trouble, and so did I. But even then you would never have known [he was sick] from talking to him on the phone. “He was a real special guy.”
Williams becomes the third former Black Gopher to die since last June: Marvin “Corky” Taylor and John Williams both died within a couple of weeks of each other last summer.
“I was at both funerals last year,” concluded Williamson. “It just let’s you know that we all are here on borrowed time.”
Obituary by Charles Hallman