After Losing Home in Fire, Carter-Williams Looking to Provide New Life for Family
NEW YORK –– It has become a virtual cliché in professional sports.
An athlete gets drafted and immediately buys his parents, or his mother, a brand new home.
But in the case of former Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams, the story has new meaning.
After his family home in Hamilton, Mass., burned to the ground in March, Carter-Williams is looking to use his newfound status — and resources — as an NBA player to buy a new home — and launch a new life — for his family. The NBA Draft is June 27.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Carter-Williams told SNY.tv last week at the NBA Draft Lottery. “I’m looking forward to having a great time and supporting my family, so it’s nice. It’s real nice.”
Zach Zegarowski, Carter-Williams’ stepfather, and his twin 14-year-old brothers were in the house at the time of the fire, but fortunately no one was injured. The Syracuse star, however, did lose all of his personal belongings just as March Madness was beginning. He would eventually help lead the Orange to the Final Four.
“It was real hard, I lost a lot of memorable stuff that I really can’t get back,” he said of the fire. “My trophies, my accolades, my letters I got, photographs, those are things that I’d like to get back but I’m grateful that everyone is safe.”
The 6-foot-6 Carter-Williams is projected to go in the upper portion of the first round. DraftExpress.com has him going No. 13 to the Dallas Mavericks and Chad Ford of ESPN.com has him going No. 16 to the Boston Celtics.
Carter-Williams’ family is currently staying at a cousin’s home in Massachusetts, and his mother, Mandy, said the family would wait to see where Michael is drafted before deciding if they will live near him.
“We definitely have a lot of unknowns right now,” Mandy told SNY.tv. “Michael has a younger sister and two brothers that lived with us in that house, so we’re just going to see where he goes and try to figure out what we’re going to do and all of just hopefully get settled by August.”
She said because the kids are in school in Massachusetts, the family might not necessarily move to another part of the country to be near him.
“I think that we’ll all sit down as a family and just figure out what’s going to work and just support each other,” she said.
If the Celtics were to take Carter-Williams, the issue would solve itself and they wouldn’t have to move.
“If I was drafted by the Celtics, I’d be just as happy as I would being drafted by anyone else,” Carter-Williams told WEEI. “It’s a great place. It’s been home to me. It would be a blessing to play there. I’d be real excited….That’s how I really feel. I’d be happy to play for them as well as any other team.”
Mandy said the family is looking to rebuild the Hamilton, Mass., house and if he were chosen by the Celtics they could live there once it is rebuilt.
“We’re still not home,” she said. “The house is going to be torn down and we’re going to have to build so we’re looking at probably a good 7-12 months before we’re actually settled. So this [draft process] has just been so much fun for our entire family to be a part of. It’s exciting and it makes you stop thinking about the negative things and focus on the positive.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.