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Born in Lakeland, Florida in 1958, LaVon Van Williams Jr moved with his mother to Colorado when he was ten, when his parents divorced. There he began playing basketball, exhibiting clear talent. He played for the University of Kentucky with the team that won the NCAA national championship in 1978. He graduated with a degree in sociology and then played basketball professionally in Italy and Japan. In the 1980's Williams returned to Lexington where he still lives and works as a teaching assistant at the university along with creating his art. (On the left above, Williams is #52 in a 1978 game where Kentucky won over West Texas State 121-67. Part of the James Edwin "Ed" Weddle Photographic Collection at the Kentucky Digital Library.)
After years of the strict practice regimen of college and professional basketball, the freedom of woodworking was refreshing to Williams even as the craftwork involved still called on the hard work and attention to detail that he was used to from basketball.