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Book Review of “Life Is Not An Accident” by Jay Williams

Jay Williams
Photo: Denny Medley-USATSI

For Duke basketball fans looking to find some reading material, there’s a new book out by Jay Williams.

Life Is Not An Accident: A Memoir of Reinvention is a memoir by Williams that focuses on his career, which included a decorated college career and appeared to be headed for NBA stardom before a terrible motorcycle accident.

The 2001 National Player of Year and two-time All-American details the challenges he faced during his professional career, including the transition to the lifestyle and temptations of an NBA athlete and the difficulties of trying to recover from a major injury.

It was a tumultuous fall for the explosive guard who helped lead the Blue Devils to the 2001 National Championship. After his motorcycle accident, he fell into a depression and struggled to find his identity outside of dominating on the basketball court.

In a part of the book, Williams, a 6’2”, 200-pound guard known for his explosiveness and athleticism, talks about being humbled during one of his rehabilitation sessions in a pool.

Determined to do as many laps as possible in the pool, Williams challenges himself to outperform an older woman who’s also doing laps.

Here’s the excerpt:

My newly adopted rival was just passing me as I lowered myself into the water, and I was determined to catch up. At first I was making good headway, but I still found myself behind after the first two laps.

This it was over.

My breathing got heavier by the second, and my eyes started to burn from the chlorine. Excuses. As she gradually started to pull away, I thought to myself, “Pick it up, Williams. You pick this shit up right now.”

Trying to kick it into a higher gear, I watched helplessly as she made her first attempt to lap me. Just as I can feel her presence, she unnecessarily yells out to caution me.


We were the only two people in the pool.

“Old Lady Goggles” lapped me at least ten more times that session, then said to me on her way out, “It’s okay. I remember my first time in the pool after my surgeries.”

I was exhausted as I smiled back at her, trying not to say anything rude in response but thinking, “Dammit, woman. I’ve been in the pool for months.”

Life Is Not An Accident: A Memoir of Reinvention can be purchased at all major bookstores and online.