NBA star goes from 5-star hotels to living out of his car and homeless

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Ex-Celtic Williams, once a top scorer, is now looking for an assist

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. Every night at bedtime, former Celtic Ray Williams locks the doors of his home: a broken-down 1992 Buick, rusting on a back street where he ran out of everything.

The 10-year NBA veteran formerly known as ‘Sugar Ray’ leans back in the driver’s seat, drapes his legs over the center console, and rests his head on a pillow of tattered towels. He tunes his boom box to gospel music, closes his eyes, and wonders.

Williams, a generation removed from staying in first-class hotels with Larry Bird and Co. in their drive to the 1985 NBA Finals, mostly wonders how much more he can bear. He is not new to poverty, illness, homelessness. Or quiet desperation.

In recent weeks, he has lived on bread and water.

“They say God won’t give you more than you can handle,” Williams said in his roadside sedan. “But this is wearing me out.”

A former top-10 NBA draft pick who once scored 52 points in a game, Williams is a face of big-time basketball’s underclass. As the NBA employs players whose average annual salaries top $5 million, Williams is among scores of retired players for whom the good life vanished not long after the final whistle.

Dozens of NBA retirees, including Williams and his brother, Gus, a two-time All-Star, have sought bankruptcy protection.

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