ESPN analyst, ex-NBA player Jay Williams on using his life lessons to inspire others

"I think I was really lucky," Williams said. "I tried to surround myself with people that held me to higher standards than I held myself."
8:17 | 06/09/18

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Transcript for ESPN analyst, ex-NBA player Jay Williams on using his life lessons to inspire others
line and to his fans, Jay Williams seemed to have it all. Brag for a second. When you were at duke, how good were you? I was all right. More than all right. Reporter: A two-time all-American at duke, Williams led his team to a national championship. At 20, he was the second pick in the NBA draft by the Chicago bulls. Jay Williams from duke university. Rookie Jay Williams -- Reporter: Just weeks after his rookie season ended, Jay's career, so full of promise, cut short by a devastating motorcycle accident. Bulls guard Jay Williams has been involved in a motorcycle accident -- The second player taken in the draft transported to the hospital in critical condition. These injuries could definitely change his career permanently. Reporter: From what seemed to be gone, Jay has found a new purpose on a familiar court. Mentoring a group of young men as part of the YouTube series "Best shot." I remember that day. It validated, I had made it. Life is good? Life is great. Reporter: On June 19th, 2003, Jay was on his motorcycle racing back from meeting his agent. No fear, no license, no helmet. As I look up from the speedometer going 65, 70 miles per hour, I'm headed towards a utility pole. I'm headed towards my fate. Reporter: The prodigy was now a punch line. His bike hit a pole. His life hit rock bottom. My body spinning around in the air. I remember it vividly. And I hit the ground. Almost like an anchor hitting cement. Reporter: He would make a valiant attempt at a comeback, but basically at 21, Jay Williams' NBA career was over. I started screaming out, "I threw it all away." Because I recognized right there at that point that I made a stupid-ass decision that will forever define my life. Reporter: The road to recovery was long. Painful. Depression. Addiction to painkillers. You said it got dark, how dark did it get for you? It got two suicide attempts dark. Twice you tried -- Twice, yeah. How did you get yourself out of that space I think I got really lucky when I tried to surround myself with people that helped me to higher standards than I held himself. Reporter: You an ESPN analyst, Jay's using life lessons to inspire others as he does on the show. The doc docu-series follows Jay to Newark, New Jersey's central high school, an oasis in one of America's most troubled cities. Kids here are tough because they have to be. In the first episode of "Best shot," the players and the coaches quickly admire Jay's skills. My rookie year, playing against the Lakers, okay? I'm a rookie for the bulls, yeah, I want to win this game more than anything. Reporter: It's the substance of his character that wins their trust. That's the mentality you need to go to the next level. Reporter: Basketball's the hook. Hard as you can! Reporter: Helping adolescent boys become young men worthy of admiration is the goal. Jay Williams, the once college basketball blue blood -- How was practice yesterday? Good. Reporter: Now texting and facetiming with boys from the shy side of blue collar neighborhoods. Oh, yeah -- a message from a baller all these boys idolize. Yeah, what's up, y'all? Here with your man Jay will. Listen, man, we're excited about you guys. Reporter: Lebron James. One of the show's executive producers. Lebron had different challenges with his mother, with his family. So I think him being able to impart that kind of wisdom and lend another voice to this is important. Reporter: Jay works with head coach Sean Mccray, a big man with his own back story. I thought he was a great asset to the season. As far as like building character and making the team understand brotherhood. Reporter: Show producers say they researched several basketball teams in the Newark area and chose to film at central high school in part because of coach Mccray's story. So this is the neighborhood you grew up in? Right here. I lived up the street. But this was all projects right here. Reporter: Newark born and raised. Along with coaching, Mccray's a community activist. He knows the struggle many of his players face at home. Because he faced them. These kids think this is Normal. But it's not. All you have to worry about, you don't know when they go home if they're getting a proper meal, if they're sleeping that night. They live in a crime-ridden area. You don't know if they're going to get shot. How much of yourself do you see in these boys? A lot. A lot them grew up with no fathers. I grew up without my dad. A lot. I see that with these guys. Like -- you need a male figure in your life. Reporter: Mccray knows in this city in these times, it takes more than a father figure. His own son is now in prison. In places like Newark, kids don't just fall through cracks. They can fall into craters. How many times in your coaching career have you gotten the call? Honestly? Hundreds of times. 19 -- no, 21 deaths. And just guys going to jail. Calling me. "I'm locked up." Reporter: Teammates jihad Evans and jequan Clark say Mccray is part father, uncle, teacher, wise man, reliably consistent, relentlessly supportive, unapologetically demanding. Coach Mccray worries far more about jequan's whereabouts than his jump shot. He was probably the only kid I worried about. Because of where he was going, where he was living. You know, sometimes you get caught up in your surroundings. I used to tell them, just go home. Reporter: Jequan learned the hard way. When I got in a car accident, I broke my femur bone. I had to sit out sophomore year. Reporter: A joyride in a stolen car. Did you realize it was stole someone. I didn't know it was stolen. Reporter: In November he was arrested for robbery. But was never adjudicated. Back on the court, jequan, known by teammates as kwan-kwan, found his name and guidance from a new source. What's up, Jay? Reporter: Receiving a special message from one of the greats. What's up, kid? Listen, man. At the end of the day, every experience in life is a teacher. Reporter: Jahad, known as haddi, has different challenges. In addition to one of his brothers being in jail, he's struggled in school. My grades was horrible. What's horrible? Fs, Ds. I actually sat down and thought about it. Like I need to do better in school. Not just because of basketball. Just period. I want to succeed in my life. Reporter: With support from his mother, his coaches, haddi's grades improved. He's eligible to play again. With his teammates, went on a trip they'll remember the rest of their lives. A trip to duke university, Jay Williams' ALMA mater, a first time out of New Jersey for some of these kids, a glimpse at what's possible for those who dream boldly and work tirelessly. Durham's a long way from Newark but the boys were reminded, hardship and heartache is never far away. Haddi got a call from his mother. His father died. He had a heart attack. And I still miss him a lot. But I know that I got people that's there for me. Reporter: Jay Williams knows darkness well. It is perhaps his most enduring lesson to the team from central high. Darkness never lasts for those who never give up. Everybody has something wrong that goes -- something that goes wrong in their life. How do you use that to empower you? Yes, this happened but I plan on being better for it. Reporter: For "Nightline" I'm Byron Pitts in Newark, new Jersey. Family! The original series "Best shot" on YouTube will premiere July 18th.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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