BOSTON -- There is no question that being a year older has benefited Robert Williams III in his development, growth and maturity both on and off the basketball court.
Having had a cluster of wise, battle-tested veterans in his ear was a plus, too.
But if you’re looking for the biggest change to Williams’ world since becoming a Celtic, it comes in the form of his eight-month-old daughter, Ava.
“I want my daughter to have everything she could possibly want,” Williams said during a sit-down interview with NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “I want her to have the best perception of me, ever.”
And for those who have followed Williams’ rocky start to life as an NBA player, there is no escaping the tardiness and missed flights as being part of his narrative that she will surely hear about as she gets older.
But Williams is intent on that not being the man that she knows, the man who seems to have found that necessary purpose to be what head coach Brad Stevens often says he wants for all his players - to be the best version of themselves.
The commitment Williams has made to preparing himself for this season has not gone unnoticed by Stevens who said earlier that Williams had “as good a summer as anybody” in terms of doing what’s needed for this upcoming season.
Stevens recalled a conversation he had with Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson about Williams this summer.
“Kara Lawson said something to me in Vegas (during summer league) that really stuck with me,” Stevens recalled. “She said I wish everybody communicated like Rob does. Last year … you wouldn’t have said that.”
Indeed, Williams said his level of communication has been ratcheted up significantly which is among the many lessons he took away from his time with Al Horford and Aron Baynes who are now in Philadelphia and Phoenix, respectively.
Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, acknowledged Williams’ communication skills have significantly improved from the time he arrived in Boston in the summer of 2018 until now.
“His vocal, defensive communication has been awesome,” Ainge told NBC Sports Boston. “Big difference. He’s just confident in the calls. He’s had a very good summer. We could all see the talent last year. The fans, you could feel it in the building when he went into the game. Fans recognize the exciting ability that he has. We just need him to be more consistent. He’s really made a lot of strides this summer.”
And the factors in that growth consist of being a year older and stronger, as well as making changes to his diet and sleep patterns.
But the way Williams sees it, they all pale in comparison to the changes spurred on his life by the birth of his daughter Ava.
And as Williams discusses the sometimes rocky path that has led him to where he is now, the beginning of the talk winds up in an all-too-familiar cul-de-sac of Williams’ thoughts.
“It’s a journey everyone has to take,” Williams said. “There are going to be trials and tribulations in that journey, always. But you have to look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day before anyone else. Before I can look at my daughter … at the end of the day you have to look at yourself.”
And more times than not, Williams sees Ava and in doing so, sees even more motivation to continue striving towards being the best version of Robert Williams he can be, for her.
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