HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Only a couple years ago, incoming Norfolk State University freshman Justin Williams wasn't sure college was for him.
"When I first started high school, I was not thinking about college at all," Williams told News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler via FaceTime Tuesday. "I was going to do these four years, get a job - and then I'd just be done."
But Williams, the valedictorian of Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Washington, DC who plans to major in environmental engineering at NSU - as well as obtain his real estate license, connected with a mentor who invested in his education. Literally.
"A person who doesn't know where I come from or the stuff I'm trying to fight to pay-off every day - he put something in my pocket and had a conversation with me," Williams explained.
Washington Wizards superstar Bradley Beal has partnered with Ron Brown High School students, a group he calls his little brothers, for years. Through his work, he was voted the 2018-19 NBA Cares Community Assist Award winner. Last week, the two-time NBA All-Star surprised four graduating seniors headed to historically Black colleges and universities with individual $3,000 scholarships.
"For him to come out of pocket and give me $3,000, I can't do anything but be appreciative of that," said Williams, who admits his family struggled financially during his youth.
Williams is not the only student boosted by Beal headed to college in our area. At Hampton University, Jaden Crosson plans to earn his Masters in Business Administration. So he's on track to an MBA with help from a star in the NBA.
"It was a really emotional moment, just because I was so grateful he did that," Crosson told News 3 via FaceTime. "He has all other stuff he can be worrying about. He has his own family."
But, as Jaden noted, Ron Brown students are Beal's family.
"That's the type of person you want to have in your corner," Crosson explained. "Someone who's well connected and cares about your well being. He shows it a lot."
Our community has two new college students because an NBA All-Star helped give them a shot.