On Feb. 6, Bellevue College opened up one of its lecture halls to Donald “Slick” Watts, a former Seattle SuperSonics basketball player and his son, also named Donald Watts, who played for the University of Washington, to share their stories and thoughts with those who wanted to hear. When the lecture began, the table full of free food and beverages was wiped completely clean and there were individuals filling the stairs of the room just to listen to what they had to say.
“I’m so proud to stand here and be a part of you, and have you be a part of me,” was the way Slick Watts opened his lecture, shedding light on just how far he himself has come from his upbringing, faced with racism due to the oppressive nature of society. Despite this, he moved from New Orleans, where he grew up, to Iowa, where he attended Grandview Community College, then later went onto a small black college named Zaiger College. Here is where he began his journey with basketball. Seeing his potential, Slick’s college basketball coach called up Bill Russell, head coach for the Seattle SuperSonics and told him that he had a kid that could play who needed a spot. Shortly after, Slick was bought a one way ticket to Seattle with nothing but the clothes on his back and big city dreams.
After playing with the team for a few games, Russell claimed that Slick ‘embarrassed’ the veteran players on the team with sheer skill. From there, Slick Watts played out the time on the team that he could and is now a P.E. teacher.
Slick’s son Donald Watts was raised in the shadows of his father. Growing up he was always expected to be good at basketball and expected to be a natural, but that wasn’t the case. At first he didn’t play well and was denied many of the positions for many teams he had tried out for. Not the type to give up, Donald recollected, “Because something was hard, I didn’t want to not attack it, to not approach it.” With the help of his father, he quickly became an excellent representative of the sport. In his senior year, Donald Watts signed on with the UW, who at the time had only won a whopping five out of thirty games. Suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, balancing college athletics and a college workload was extremely difficult, but he believed in himself and made it work. As Slick Watts said, “Believe in yourself, believe in your parents, believe in everything you do…Believing is key. That’s what I’ve learned.”
This famous father-son duo proved that anything is possible with hard work and determination. Whether someone is battling an illness or battling a world that seems to be against them and the state of his or her success, keep the words of Donald Watts in mind. “What do you want to do? Take a step back and understand what you want. Once you have that understanding…go.”