2022 NBA Finals: Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams has strong ties to Houston and NASA

Watch Williams and the Celtics take on the Golden State Warriors when the NBA Finals starts Thursday, June 2, at 8 p.m. on ABC13.

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Monday, May 30, 2022
Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) smiles during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Boston.
AP Photo/Mary Schwalm-AP

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Boston Celtics' Game 7 win in the Eastern Conference Finals made the NBA championship pairing of them and the Golden State Warriors official.

Many players on the Celtics team, which is known for its title-winning history, will play in the NBA Finals for the first time, including Boston power forward Grant Williams.

Not only does the 23-year-old have the distinction of being one of two active Celtics with the last name Williams - no relation to teammate Robert Williams III - Grant claims Houston as his birth city. And what's even more distinctive, his mom is a pioneering NASA electrical engineer.

According to her son, Teresa Johnson is one of the first black female engineers at the agency.

Before he became Boston's first-round pick in 2019, Williams told Stadium that she was a driving force in the perseverance needed on his road to the NBA.

"(Just) how intelligent she is, I respect her. She's given me the mind that I have right now," Williams said while also crediting his father, Gilbert Williams, who is a jazz artist and former college athlete. "Being able to learn outside of basketball and also within the sport comes from both my parents."

It shouldn't surprise Williams' parents that he actually received offers to play at Harvard and Yale, but he instead headed to the SEC's Tennessee Volunteers, for whom he would claim the conference's player of the year in back-to-back seasons.

So, how drawn was he to his mom's life at NASA? Quite a bit, he says.

"My mom would bring work home," Williams recalled of his childhood. "Understanding there's more to life than just where we're at."

Johnson, Williams says, was also part of the team that helped make the International Space Station. At the time of the Stadium interview, Williams said his mom works on keeping astronauts safe.

Williams isn't quite a regular starter for the Celtics, but he has proven to be a reliable bench player, averaging 30 minutes a game over the 18 playoff games he appeared in.

Catch Williams and his Boston squad take on the Warriors when the 2022 NBA Finals gets underway in Game 1 on Thursday, June 2, at 8 p.m. on ABC13.

NBA Finals schedule

  • Game 1: Boston at Golden State, 8 p.m., Thursday, June 2
  • Game 2: Boston at Golden State, 7 p.m., Sunday, June 5
  • Game 3: Golden State at Boston, 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 8
  • Game 4: Golden State at Boston, 8 p.m., Friday, June 10
  • Game 5*: Boston at Golden State, 8 p.m., Monday, June 13
  • Game 6*: Golden State at Boston, 8 p.m., Thursday June 16
  • Game 7*: Boston at Golden State, 7 p.m., Sunday June 19

All games are on ABC13. All times are Central Time.

* - if necessary