ACC Legends: Siedah Williams of Virginia

March 1, 2012

Siedah Williams' team honors at the University of Virginia seem contradictory: two-time captain, three-time winner of the unsung hero award. If nothing else, the combination suggests they couldn't make enough hardware for a profoundly respected player.

And in that light, it's not especially surprising that a player who graduated only five years ago is an ACC Legend.

In her four years in Charlottesville, Williams, a 6-foot-2 center, led the Cavaliers to three postseason appearances, a pair of 20-win seasons and a 19-victory campaign. Durable and dependable, she logged 123 games in the uniform. The Cavs didn't earn national prominence in her time, and that probably explains her absence from All-ACC teams, but her achievements were noticed where they matter most: within the family.

Williams became the 23rd player in UVa history to surpass 1,000 career points, and of them, a few stand out.

Fans tend to remember the inaugural men's game in the history of John Paul Jones Arena, the sparkling new facility the university had sought for years, on the night of Nov. 12, 2006. In that one, the Cavaliers overcame a 19-point deficit to upend 10th-ranked Arizona. But earlier in the day, Williams had made her mark, racking up Virginia's first 11 points in the venue before others joined the party in an eventual 20-point win over Old Dominion.

That was her second year as a team captain, and by that point, she had earned a nickname: grandma. It was bestowed not just for her seniority; she was the de facto team chef whose culinary skills and general counsel routinely attracted teammates to her residence.

"Time management is everything," she said when asked to impart advice to current student-athletes. "Be sure to keep a good balance between school work, sports and your social life."

Williams, who majored in anthropology, also earned a specially designated grant, the Thomas J. Ryan Memorial Scholarship, which UVa awards annually to a player whose commitment to the team supersedes interest in individual achievement.

Williams' older brother, Jawad Williams, had an excellent career at North Carolina, but Siedah took her own path from the family's home of Cleveland and had no regrets beyond a string of injuries that precluded any pursuit of a professional career. Teammates respected her ability to play through the pain and put off surgery until the end of the spring semester. She missed only four of the Cavs' games in her four seasons.

Today, she is the chief deputy clerk for the municipal government in her hometown. Engaged to Lonnie Simpson, she is the mother of Kimani, who will soon celebrate her third birthday.