Yesterday RaptorsHQ's Ray Bala talked with Jerome Williams about his time with the Raptors and his NBA and college career. In part II today, JYD gets into some of his current and future off-court initiatives...
HQ: Now most players after they leave the game, they seem to fall off the map for most fans but in your case that's not true...and might I add, you've been busy doing some great things. Can you give our readers a rundown of what you've been up to since you've left the game?
JYD: Well, I guess it all starts with the JYD Project. My passion for the fans, my passion for giving back, it never fades. I truly appreciate every Raptor fan that cheered for me, that barked for me, that asked me for my autograph. When I got finished playing, that was of course my first passion - to give back. So the JYD Project has continued to grow on a national level, and an international level, just from my works and different things that I feel passionate enough to get involved in. I just go from project, to project, to project trying to improve the lives of other. My slogan is "building champions and changing lives."
HQ: Is there any type of project that you look for or is it just a general project to another?
JYD: No, I just go from general project to general project. As long as it involves helping kids, I start with that. Then I just get creative with the things I take on. For the most part, I've done project clean up days. I've done Habitat for Humanity. I've worked the US State department going on trips. I do car rallies for kids. Basketball Boot Camp for kids. In regards to what to I do, I encompass everything I like to do and it's all under the umbrella of the JYD Project.
And businesses have spun off of that because where there's a project, there are always going to be more requests. So I've basically learned to not only do things for charity but also for profit. So when I'm requested to do an event, I have no problem doing that and I do it. At the same time, there are people asking when's the next one? How do we keep this going? For that, where there's a basketball boot camp, there are also camps and clinics and JYD elite skills training to continue that. So they can always get what they want and there's always a free element to it where they don't have to pay. Like recently I did a car rally and car show for kids that was free. There also other events throughout the year that the big companies get involved with JYD at an Automotive Street Style level.
HQ: Now I want to get to that. Most guys after careers, in whatever sport, they tend to focus on what they know and like. You have seemed to branch out beyond your interest in cars to include a real estate development and transport company. Are these things you've become passionate about or have you just picked up the skills to develop this aspect of your business life?
JYD: It's something that I've picked up a passion for but as you said, it's really about picking up the skills to do it. Being around it helps you navigate the channels of doing that kind of business. Right now I'm working on a project like an extreme home make over but with a high school. This high school was built in the 70's and hasn't been upgraded since. For me to go in there to help that situation, it's gonna take a lot of knowhow since it's not my forte. Basically with me learning it, if I like I'll pick it up and continue to learn more about it.
HQ: You also have great passion for cars. Can you give your fans an idea of what Automotive Street Style and the car customizations side of JYD is about?
JYD: I've been customizing cars since I was 16 years old hooking on stuff, putting on hubcaps, twisting wires in the radio, whatever. I never learned to be a master at any of this stuff but what I did do is develop an eye for customization and that's what I do. One of my favorites is my 1964 Impala that I did in Toronto. My guys at GT AutoWorks really put it down for me. They took my vision and my work and put some elbow grease behind it and it's been awards ever since. It's an Impala with GM performance parts, sponsored, and a 50 inch plasma molded into the trunk! Never been done. And I still have two pumps, eight batteries and two 12 inch super subs!
HQ: That's crazy! Now how hands-on are you with the customization? Do you do all the conceptualization with the client? How does it work on your end?
JYD: I do all the concepts, work with the client, get their vision and then present the vision back to them. And if they like it, I go to work. Some of my clients include Chris Brown, Eva Longoria, Fabolous, Al Harrington, Allan Houston.
HQ: What the craziest custom you've done so far?
JYD: I'd definitely say Al Harrington's drop head (Rolls Royce) Phantom. When you cut a $500,000 car, you better know what you're doing. It's not like taking a piece of junk and turning it into a master piece. It's more like taking a masterpiece and saying "I better not mess this up."
HQ: So what did you do to the car?
JYD: Man. The same thing I did to the '64. Cut up the trunk, put in subs, screens, carpeted it, molded it, fiber glassed it. I put on 24 inch Giovanni custom rims. I put a floating cap in his rims. I even customized his license plate with Protégé. Of course you've seen a lot of his Protégé shoes. Make sure you go cop a pair. Big shout out to my man Al Harrington.
HQ: With the moves that have gone on this summer who do you have pegged for the NBA Finals this year?
JYD: The finals this year? If you listen to Allen Iverson's press conference I'm putting Memphis in the Finals! (chuckles) Just kidding, just kidding all my Raptors fans out there.
Really, I'm gonna go with Cleveland. I'm not sold on Boston, their gonna be good team. Orlando's gonna be a great team as well. I think Cleveland is going to shock some people if they can keep Shaq healthy 'til the end. He's going to be a force with Dwight and I don't think anyone's going to be able to stop LeBron when he has a legitimate post player in there clogging things up. So I'll go with LeBron on the East.
HQ: Now let's go back to the home team, what do you predict for the Raptors this season?
JYD: Man, I want to see the Raptors get through the first round of the playoffs. I was a part of the only team in Raptors' history to ever get past the first round of the playoffs. I think this team that they have, with Hedo Turkogulu I think he could do it. What he did with the Orlando Magic, I think he can do with the Raptors. So between Hedo and Bargnani, they're bringing that European flare to Raptorland and hopefully more victories.
HQ: I recall that you liked wrestling when you were a Raptor so are there any plans to return to the ring?
JYD: I think that myself and Hulk Hogan are going to come out of retirement to battle, naw I better save myself. Me and the Rock are going to come out of retirement to take on the Big Show and umm ... who else is out there that gets on our nerves. Just throw somebody else with ‘em, I don't even want to throw anyone's name out there. But I know that me and Big Show have history so I owe him in the ring. Me and the Rock versus the Big Show and tell ‘em to put someone good in there and we'll take ‘em out!
HQ: So now what's ahead for JYD?
JYD: Next on the plate is visiting another country. There's a lot of kids that could benefit from the JYD Project and the US State Department is looking at sending me over to Russia.
HQ: And when's the planned time for that?
JYD: If it's up them it would be in a week and half! (Laughs) these trips usually take about five days to a week. And I go in and visit orphanages, do clinics for under privileged kids. If there are any military bases around the location I'm at I'll rally the troops on the bases - basically do ambassador work and help to improve US relations.
HQ: How was your recent trip to Bahrain this summer?
JYD: That was a great trip. I got a great friend over there who does a lot of work with kids. I'll definitely be visiting them soon.
HQ: You're doing the JYD thing on a global scare I see.
JYD: Hey man, it was global as soon as I crossed over that border to Canada!
HQ: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Jerome, and best of luck with all your future endeavours!