The death of Marianna High School basketball player Herman Williams has been deeply felt throughout the entire Jackson County community.
The 6-foot-2 star guard passed away on June 20 while playing basketball at First Baptist Marianna. According to WJHG, It has since been determined that Williams died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common cause of cardiac arrest in young people.
Williams’ family, friends and loved ones gathered to celebrate his life at his funeral on June 25 in the Marianna High School gym.
Williams averaged 18 points per game as a senior for the Bulldogs as he battled back from a knee injury sustained his junior year.
Williams was set to attend Division I program Louisiana-Lafayette on a scholarship. Ragin’ Cajuns head coach Bob Marlin sent his heartfelt condolences to Williams’ family.
“Our program’s been dealt a severe blow,” Marlin said to The Advocate. “A very bright young man with a very bright future. He had a bounce in his step, a smile that was contagious and he already loved the Ragin’ Cajuns. He was going to be a perfect complement to our team as a person as well as a basketball player.”
Jackson County coaches share their thoughts and memories of Williams:
Former Marianna head coach Travis Blanton
“He was an awesome young man. It was a devastating loss to our community. Herman was always working in the gym when no one else was willing to be there with his best friend Shaquarious Baker. His character stood out amongst his peers and teammates wherever he was. He was a great player and a better person. He was the kind of player that could make any coach look good. My son and I took him on an unofficial visit to University of Alabama to see them play the University of Florida in football during his junior year in September for a day game and we all were finding the recruiting room with the AC by halftime. We all had a great time while in Tuscaloosa and all he wanted to do was get his hands on a basketball and go back to Cullman Coliseum to shoot. Needless to say we walked back from the stadium and Herman found his basketball. I have so many fond memories of a young man that was such a special part of my life and my family. We are praying for his family as we all try and make it through these tough days ahead. He will be missed by so many.”
Current Marianna head coach/former Graceville head coach Matt Anderson
“Every coach has different ways of doing things and I told him I might need him to play several different positions, not just shooting guard, from time to time. His answer was this: ‘Coach, I just want to win. I’ll do whatever it takes.’ A coach dreams about coaching those types of players. He was in the spotlight because of his skills but he wanted to win more than he wanted to be in the spotlight. He was primarily a shooting guard for me, but he was unusual in that he was a great rebounder, too. You don’t see that combinations very often because shooting guard mostly stay to the perimeter. But he could jump and he crashed the boards for us and came down with the ball often. He averaged almost 10 rebounds a game. That’s almost unheard for a guard.”
Cottondale head coach Chris Obert
“He was a really good kid. He always had a smile on his face and always went out of his way to speak when he saw me. He was very respectful and always played really hard and always ready to compete.”
Malone head coach Steven Welch
“We went at it for four good years. The first, most obvious, thing I noticed about Herman was his God given athleticism. He is one of the top athletes I have ever coached against. But as I knew him over the years, I began to see a hard worker who really developed those natural abilities into polished skills. So, as a player I always respected and admired that quality of hard work. As a person, I always thought of him as a nice guy with a solid character, friendly personality, and humble attitude. That’s how I will remember him.”
Sneads head coach Rob Hubbs
“Herman was a heck of an athlete and a very good basketball player. He was always spoken highly of by the kids at Sneads High School. I never heard anybody speak of Herman as if he wasn’t a good person or young man. Our thoughts and prayers here at Sneads go out to his family.”