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Arizona company helps athletes decide how to give back

PHOENIX — Many current and former professional athletes are thankful for the success they’ve had in life, and oftentimes, they want to give back to the community.

A new Valley company is helping them to decide with which charities they want to become involved.

One former NBA center, who lives in the Valley, has become one of the company’s clients.

Scott Williams had a successful 15-year career in the NBA.

“I started with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990-91 season,” Williams said. “I was fortunate enough to play with a guy named Michael Jordan, and with Scottie Pippen. We won a championship that year, and went on to win three more championships with Jordan. We were the first team to win back-to-back-to-back titles in over 30 years.”

Williams also played for six other teams, including the Phoenix Suns, before retiring in 2005.

His career almost didn’t happen, he said. That’s because a crushing tragedy nearly derailed his path to the pros.

“I lost my parents to a murder-suicide when I was in college and I was 18 or 19 years old,” Williams said.

He said he was ready to give up, but his coach told him to stay in school and go after his dream of playing in the NBA.

After his retirement, the 6-foot-10 Williams stayed close to basketball by becoming a coach and later a broadcaster. He contributes to the television broadcasts of Grand Canyon University basketball games.

As he did during his playing career, Williams, 46, wants to help others get through their hard times. He said he donates time and money to such causes as the fight against domestic violence.

Williams said he wants to be confident that his efforts are going to the right charities.

“There’s nothing worse (than) when you’re giving large sums of money, but the money that you’re giving is not helping people to its maximum ability,” Williams said.

That’s why he’s teaming up with Outside the Game.

Denise Wittstock is the company’s owner and CEO.

“Outside the Game is a consulting firm that works with professional athletes to provide education and guidance on their personal philanthropy,” Wittstock said.

“What causes are important to them personally? Where would they like to give? Is it in their hometown? Is it their alma mater? Are they looking for a nationwide group that they can work with — no matter what city that they’re traded to?”

The organization also helps coordinate speaking engagements at charities and places for them to volunteer their time.

For example, Williams will join former Suns players Alvan Adams and Tim Kempton next Monday to serve lunch to the needy at St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix.

Williams said he will share his story on how he overcame adversity.

“I’ve accomplished so many things because I had somebody there that believed in me and shared stories with me about perseverance and willpower and taught me what (it’s) like to work hard at your goal every day,” Williams said.