AUBREY — The two shots that drew the most attention in last Friday’s game between Aubrey and Celina were the final missed free throws by Aubrey’s Javion Williams.
The freshman shooting guard stepped to the line and heaved the ball against the backboard — a shot made with no intentions of going in. The second shot fell well short and right of the basket.
At first, those in attendance were confused by Williams’ approach. But as the story circulated throughout the crowd and everybody looked up at the scoreboard, it all made sense.
Williams’ father, Martelle Young, had planned to attend the game. But Young wasn’t there.
He was in a hospital in Fort Worth, in a coma he never woke up from, which his son learned minutes before the game started.
Because of Williams’ missed free throws, he finished the game with 35 points, matching Young’s age when he died that day.
“I was so excited that he was going to come, I was like, ‘I’m going to play anyway, because I know — I know — it would have been special if he was here,” Williams said. “I don’t care if I went out there and scored five, I was still going to dedicate it to him.”
Young lived in Fort Worth, while Williams lives with his mother and twin sister in Aubrey. When Williams was younger and lived in McKinney, he used to spend his summers hanging out with his dad.
Activities the two engaged in included riding around town and getting pizza. If father and son were together and the Philadelphia Eagles were playing, the two watched on television.
“That was my all,” Williams said. “I looked up to him more than anything. I feel like I didn’t get enough of him because we were in different cities.”
The week leading up to the Celina game, it seemed that Young finally was going to get to see his son play a high school game for the first time. Those plans took a sharp detour.
According to the Aubrey freshman, Young had dental work done Tuesday. The doctors told Williams that his dad took a mix of painkillers and prescribed medication to quicken the recovery process.
The next day, Young fell at his home and went into cardiac arrest and into a coma. It was Williams’ 15th birthday.
At midnight Thursday, Jan. 10, Williams said, he went to the hospital to spend time with his father. In a matter of hours, the Chaparrals were to open District 10-3A play against Celina.
Less than an hour before the game started, Williams said, his crying mother burst through the doors of Aubrey’s auxiliary gym as he was warming up. He said he already knew what she was going to say.
Young’s brain showed no signs of activity Friday. Even though his life support wasn’t pulled until Saturday, the family already knew Martelle Young was never waking up.
“I broke down and cried like a baby,” Williams said. “I cried for about five to seven minutes straight. And my aunt and them, they were holding me and they were with me.”
Aubrey coach Kyle Smith said he didn’t know many details prior to the game except that Young was dead. Smith stressed the insignificance of the game compared with family matters, but Williams refused to sit it out.
Throughout the year, the freshman’s play has been spotty. He’s came off the bench and he’s been in the starting lineup. On Tuesday, Williams was held to six points in a loss to Argyle.
Prior to last Friday, his best games came in the Lindsay tournament. He scored 22 points against Henrietta and 25 against Bowie, earning the tournament’s MVP honors.
“He can shoot,” Smith said. “There’s no doubt. We all knew from the beginning that he was a good shooter.”
Williams’ older brother, Bry’len, also plays for the Chaparrals. Bry’len and Javion share the same mother but have different fathers. Bry’len Williams said he knew when the teams were warming up that his little brother was on the verge of doing something special.
“I’ve known what he can do and what he’s capable of, and he hadn’t really come out yet this season,” Bry’len Williams said. “That night, he looked like he was the most comfortable he’s ever been.”
In the second half, Javion Williams seemed like he couldn’t miss. The point total hit 33, and Javion said he wasn’t aware of how many points he had until someone shouted it out.
Then came the 34th and 35th points.
Bry’len made a block and the Williams brothers found themselves headed down the court with only one defender to stop them. The senior passed to the freshman. Javion Williams hit a right-handed layup with about 1:15 left.
When he went to the line and missed his first free throw, his head coach was baffled.
“I didn’t even know how many points he had,” Smith said. “It was obvious when he threw it against the backboard. We kind of looked and were like, ‘Why did he just throw it hard against the backboard?’
“And that’s when somebody said his dad was 35.”
After the game, Smith said, Celina players congratulated Javion Williams on his performance and offered condolences. So did others who were in attendance, and the teams prayed in the middle of the court.
“I could say the whole school and the whole coaching staff and the city of Aubrey, basically, they were behind me and they were with me through that time, and it was so special,” Javion Williams said. “I thank them for that.”
The freshman said he might change his jersey number to 35 next season. But when asked about scoring the symbolic number on a night nobody in attendance will forget, he said he hadn’t planned it.
“It never crossed my mind, hitting 35 points,” Javion Williams said. “It never did.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .