A shooting star is an amazing, short-lived streak of light that trails after a burning meteoroid, and if you’re lucky enough you can sometimes see it in the night sky. A shooting star is very much like the luminous and beautiful life of Malcolm Williams, to which the staff and members of Spring Creek Teen Central consider themselves blessed to have witnessed.
Williams was an exuberant 15-year-old boy, who saw the world through kind eyes and a passion for athleticism. But like a shooting star his life ended before it could truly begin. On February 2nd (just a few weeks shy of his 15th birthday), Williams was diagnosed with osteosarcoma within his right leg. Osteosarcoma is a type of cancer that occurs in the body’s long bones, particularly the ones that make up the arms and legs. Over the winter months Williams presumed he was just having simple muscles pains in his right leg because of his active lifestyle. However, when those aches did not cease and his leg became swollen, he had extensive medical tests conducted.
After several doctor visits and an MRI, Williams was given the diagnoses of osteosarcoma. Williams took this news in stride. He would not let this disease get the best of him or dampen his spirits. He continued to play football, basketball and swim at Teen Central and in school. “He was always in good spirits. He was a fighter that never let anything get him down,” said his mother, Carolyn. Throughout Williams’ life he received several trophies and awards for his performance in sports. But no matter how fast Williams ran in each sport, no matter how much he pushed himself, the cancer continued to take over. “Sports, Teen Central and his friends were his outlet; that is what kept him happy and busy,” Carolyn said.
In addition to the love and support Williams received from his family, he was also furnished with acknowledgments and gifts from well-renowned people— citations and letters from government officials, autographs and jerseys from several NFL players, and an assortment of appreciation gifts because they were in awe of how graceful and determined Williams was in fighting cancer.
Cancer is a rapid, aggressive disease that can take such a quick hold on one’s body, turning its cells against the organs at an extreme pace—that is what happened to Williams. Despite his steadfast resolve and constant smile, the chemotherapy was proving ineffective. His leg had to be amputated. The cancer would not cease; it spread to his lungs and then to his spine. He had continuous surgeries removing portions of his lung and so much chemotherapy that his lips bled. On August 25th, Williams’ body could no longer fight the cancer and he passed away at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
In memory of their fallen friend, Spring Creek Teen Central hosted a basketball game and potluck dinner for all to commemorate Williams’ life on Thursday, November 10th. About 80 members, friends and family gathered in the Brooklyn Sports Club’s (BSC) gymnasium for a two-round basketball game. There were two teams, one wore golden shirts (a symbol for osteosarcoma cancer) and the opposing team wore Ivory (the ribbon color for lung cancer). The shirts were designed by Teen Central staff member, Juan Rosario, and had the words “Ballers Express E4M” (which stood for “Everything for Malcolm”), Williams’ football jersey number (83) and “M. Williams” on the back of every jersey. The intricate design and personalized colors represented the significant impact Malcolm had on Teen Central. Teen Central staff members and coordinators of the memorial event, Rosario, Lonai Mosley and Roger Beckford, all described Williams as family.
After the well-played game finished, everyone in attendance had an opportunity to write messages of love and support for Williams’ family on a basketball. Attendees then gathered in the BSC’s lower level to enjoy a wonderful meal with members of the Starrett City Tenants Association, the Starrett City Lions Club and other guests. Like every other basketball tournament at Teen Central, awards were given out. Although for this game the MVP was not only given to one of the participating basketball players. It was awarded to “The Most Valuable Parents:” Carolyn and Kevin Williams for their dedication to their son and seven other children.
The light Williams left behind truly touched the hearts of all those in attendance. He was an inspiration to all. The potluck dinner culminated with the sound of laughter as the Williams family, Teen Central staff and members all reminisced about the wonderful life of Malcolm Williams.
Photos by Amanda Moses