St. John's University had three former sports stars in the news this weekend-- all with different and compelling stories. Same school, same weekend and three different paths.
Keegan Bradley capped off the weekend by coming back from a three-stroke deficit to tie the leader, with three regulation holes to play, to win the PGA Championship in grand fashion after a three-hole playoff. The rookie made a remarkable recovery, after triple-bogeying the 15th hole, to defeat Jason Dufner. The St. John's grad ('08) was the first golfer to win a major in his first appearance in one since 1913.
The weekend kicked off with the induction of St. John's basketball legend, Chris Mullin, into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday night. The left-handed Brooklyn gym rat was rewarded for an outstanding college, professional and Olympic basketball career.
In between, there was another sad chapter added to the life of former Red Storm basketball star Jayson Williams. The 43 year-old Williams is preparing to move from a prison in New Jersey to Rikers Island some time next week. The former New Jersey Net is expecting to be transferred next Friday after doing 18 months for aggravated assault, then he's to start serving a one-year sentence for a DWI in New York.
One St. John's star begins what looks like a promising career while another achieves the ultimate recognition for a career well spent. The third can only look back and wonder "what if?"
The lanky and enthusiastic Bradley (nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer, Pat Bradley) provided one of the most exciting finishes in a golf tournament in recent years by not wilting under pressure. His clutch 35-foot putt to birdie on the the par-three 17 was a shot for the ages. The 25 year-old charged back with birdies on 16 and 17 and tied the fading Dufner, who bogeyed those same holes, on 18 before winning the playoff by one stroke to take home the Wanamaker Trophy.
The two golfers had to play the 16, 17 and 18th holes again in the playoff-- the same holes Bradley just conquered and Dufner flopped.
Mullin, the left-handed gym rat from Brooklyn got a standing ovation as he took the stage and stood next to his mentor and former-St. John's coach Louie Carnesecca. The two old friends will always have the Final Four run in 1985 to keep them connected.
Mullin's career spanned four seasons at St. John's and he is still the school's career scoring leader. He was the Big East Player of the Year three times and won the Naismith Award in 1985 for being the best college player in the nation.
After being the number seven draft choice of the Golden State Warriors and, after overcoming his own demons with alcohol and home-sickness, Mullin went on to star with the Warriors and Indiana Pacers.
Mullin was a medalist on two Olympic teams and was part of the original "Dream Team' in the 1992 games.
Mullin took his knowledge and brush-cut from the court to the studio and is now an analyst for ESPN after working in various front-office positions with the Warriors from 2002-09.
The New York native would probably say, other than not winning a championship, never suiting up for the hometown Knicks was his only regret.
While Bradley's and Mullin's fortunes are looking, and have been shining, bright; it now seems Williams is finally seeing the light.
The former Red Storm center's life has been riddled with legal and personal issues. It began in 1988, at a St. John's game against Providence, when the hot-headed Williams got into a tussle with an opposing player and then grabbed a fan in the stands. He was suspended for leaving the bench.
For three years the brutish Williams led St. John's to the NCAA tournament and was selected as the 21st pick in the 1990 draft. After spending most of his time on a bench with the Philadelphia 76ers, Williams was sent to the Nets, where he languished until a breakout All-Pro season in 1997-98.
An serious leg injury essentially put an end to the forward's blossoming career after the first year of a six-year, $90 million deal.
Arrests for fights and reports of violence culminated with the shooting death of his limo driver inside his New Jersey mansion in 2002. After years of legal haggling, Williams was sentenced to 5 years for aggravated assault (18 months with good behavior). He will now start serving out the drunk driving charge after hitting a tree in Manhattan's lower-east-side last year not long after a suicide attempt where he was tasered by cops in a hotel room.
The jailed Williams, 43, is reportedly attending AA meeting six days a week and teaches bible study while serving his time.
Williams life after college is a sordid collection of foolish behavior compared with the achievements of the other alums tied in with this weekend's St. John's trinity.
Life is a rugged path to walk. For Bradley, Mullin and Williams, it looks like there is now a promising future, a storied past and, hopefully, true redemption.