Fan Repays Former Childhood Idol

Phillip Levine pays it forward. (photo by Miami Herald)

During the NBA season opener between the Boston Celtics at the Miami Heat, Art “Hambone” Williams, age 73, and Phillip Levine, age 50, reunited.  Williams was a reserve point guard for the 1974 Celtics NBA championship team.  Phillip Levine–now a successful real estate developer in Miami–was eight years old living with his single mother in Brookline, Mass., when he noticed a tall man as his neighbor.  Levine never knew he was a basketball player.  Levine always shot hoops outside, and one day Williams invited the child to go to a Celtics game with him.  Williams picked Levine up two hours from game time and introduced Levine to the team, which included hall-of-famers John Havlicek and Dave Cowens.

“Hambone” Williams (photo by SDHS)

“I turned Philip loose and said: ‘Go ahead and say something to the guys,’” Williams said. “His eyes got real big.” Williams also reserved a court-side seat right next to the Celtics bench for Levine.  Levine was astounded and later wrote a paper in 6th grade on “the best day of his life.”  He received an A for the paper.

Forty-two years later, Levine never forgot about William’s generosity.  Levine heard of Williams falling on hard times in San Diego.  Williams was living only on social security and NBA retirement checks.  Levine flew Williams first-class to Miami and put him in the Four Seasons hotel, where the current Celtics were staying.  Levine also bought Williams a 60-inch TV so Williams can watch basketball in the comfort of his own home.  Asked about Levine’s actions, Williams replied, “It’s the game I’d love to see, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Phillip.”

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Information for this article was based on an article by Walter Villa of The Miami Herald.

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