MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Sam Williams has a stride and finesse of a man who goes about his business with the gentile quality of a leader -- and that was never more apparent than when he received his latest honor inside the gym at the Milwaukee Police Department's Safety Academy.
Williams was part of a distinguished group who received a Citizen Certificate of Appreciation during the Milwaukee Police Department's annual Merit Awards ceremony.
As Executive Vice President of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee, Williams has helped bridge the gap between police and students.
Doing that and working with kids he says pays dividends over and over again.
"We have a lot of young people who are out here who are really looking for someone to invest some time in them -- someone to show them some love, some direction, some guidance, some counseling," Williams said.
When Williams first came to Milwaukee some 40 years ago, the Detroit native decided Milwaukee wasn't just a place to pass through. For him, this wasn't only a place to live -- but a place to call home.
Giving back, especially to the youth of Milwaukee is his work and his mission.
"I think it`s an obligation. There`s probably been someone who`s touched us in a very positive fashion," Williams said.
The mentoring began on the basketball court.
As an original member of the Milwaukee Bucks, Williams says team coaches decided to give him a roommate that needed a positive influence. That roommate was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
"They said - he was Lew Alcindor at the time - 'let`s let Lew Al room with Williams,'" Williams said.
"The reason they roomed me with Kareem is because everyone thought I was a square. I`ve never had a drop of alcohol. I never drunk. I never swore. We could go to Hawaii and I`d go back and get room service. I never hung out in the clubs. Nobody wanted to be bothered with me because they thought I was a square," Williams said.
Williams still hasn't shed that image. He says it fits him well -- and keeps him humble. Easy back in the day, because the game was entirely different than it is now.
"My biggest check, 46 years ago, I was making $35,000 a year. If I was playing today, I`d be making 10 million," Williams said.
If legacy had a price tag, Williams is priceless -- and the same goes for the message he wants to leave behind.
"When that day comes and someone says, 'well, what do you think about Sam Williams' -- that someone will just say, 'he touched a few lives' and that will be good enough for me," Williams said.