KELLY Williams stunned the PBA when he announced his retirement on Monday, putting an end to a career that saw the Fil-American high-flyer reach great heights both in the pro league and with the national team.
"It is with gladness & sadness that I announce my retirement from basketball," Williams said in a post on his official Twitter page. "I could not have predicted that I’d have the kind of career I was able to experience."
The entire TnT Katropa currently stays at the Inspire Sports Academy where they are holding a bubble-type workout for the past two weeks already, although Williams didn't go with the team.
In an official statement, TnT management expressed gratitude to the player known as 'Machine Gun Kelly' for spending a decade wearing the Katropa jersey.
"We would like to thank Kelly Williams for everything he has done for TnT Katropa," said team manager Gabby Cui.
"We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
Just before the team travelled to Calamba, Laguna for the start of its workouts, the Katropa extended the contracts of Williams, along with Almond Vosotros and Samboy De Leon, prior to his stunning announcement.
Williams was a highly-touted prospect from Oakland University sought out by then national team coach Chot Reyes to play for the Philippine squad in 2005.
Reyes even personally met Williams in Detroit and tried to convince him to come over to the Philippines,
With the hoopla surrounding Williams, it didn't come as a surprise when he emerged as the no. 1 overall pick by Sta. Lucia in the 2006 PBA draft.
By season's end, he was named Rookie of the Year.
Reyes was quick to include Williams in his national team roster for the 2007 FIBA Asia Men's Championship in Tokushima, Japan. The Filipinos failed to advance in the knockout stage though, in their first major international tournament back following the lifting of the FIBA suspension on the Philippines.
But Williams' star continued to shine in the pro league.
He proved his worth by guiding the Realtors past a powerhouse Purefoods side in the 2008 Philippine Cup, where he was also the Best Player of the Conference awardee.
By the end of his sophomore season, Williams was hailed MVP of the league.
More championships came his way when he was traded by the Realtors to Talk ‘N Text just before the Sta. Lucia franchise was bought by Meralco.
Williams’ presence solidified the Texters’ frontcourt and helped net the team five championships since he came on board.
The five-time All-Star and two-time slamdunk champion was eventually selected as part of the national team training pool when Yeng Guiao took over the program for the 2009 FIBA Asia Men's Championship.
Unfortunately, Williams was diagnosed with a recurring rare blood disorder that same year and forced him to stop playing for a while.
When he came back a season after, the veteran big man got to play for the original Smart Gilas Pilipinas team as one of several PBA players tapped to reinforce the national squad for the 2011 FIBA Asia joust.
For his successful return to playing, the PBA Press Corps named him as its 2010 Comeback Player of the Year, an award he will win again seven years after.
Williams was likewise a three-time Mythical First Team, a four-time Mythical Second Team, and once made it to the All-Defensive Team.
He's also been named as part of the PBA's 40 Greatest Players of All Time.