When the Houston Press was looking for a photographer to take pictures of the Yates basketball team for this week's cover story, "Third Ward High," we found the perfect guy: Bryan Williams, a member of the University of Houston's famed Phi Slama Jama basketball team.
Williams played for the team from 1981 to 1983, went to two Final Fours, and he was teammates with NBA superstars Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwan. More importantly, Williams played on Phi Slama Jama with former Yates standout Michael Young, whose son Joseph played for this year's Yates team. Joseph was named a Parade All-American this week.
"I talked to [Michael Young] a few times at the games, mostly about his excitement to see his son playing," Williams tells Hair Balls. "It's always cool to be involved with people you had something to do with a long time ago."
He continues, "I like [Yates'] style of play, their hustle, they play hard. They give full effort all the time: pressing, trapping, fast-breaking. I like that," Williams says. "It brings back memories of the way we used to play at the University of Houston."
Williams, who grew up in Los Angeles, first got interested in photography after someone gave him a camera when he was 12. That took a backseat to basketball a few years later.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Support Our Journalism
After his years at the University of Houston, Williams did a short stint in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors, then played professionally in Asia, Europe and South America for close to a decade.
"It's always fun to watch basketball, to see the way the game has changed. I never really got to be a spectator when I was playing," Williams says. "Now as a photographer, I have a whole different way of looking at it. Knowing how to play the game, knowing what the game is about, it helped me with the timing of the shots, to anticipate certain things. It was cool to shoot it, since I know the game so well."
Williams moved back to Houston about four months ago, and he's trying to establish his commercial photography business here. More of his work, including some more Yates pictures, are available on his Web site.
"I've been traveling around the world for the last 30 years, and I never really had a home, but I always enjoyed Houston. It was great in college, and I came back a few times," Williams says. "I always thought it'd be a great place to work and make a home."