It was only fitting Norman Bonner and Roscoe Williams were honored together Thursday night.
Williams, a former basketball star and longtime educator at Augusta State and Paine, scored the first basket in Laney High School’s old gym. When Laney opened its new gym in December, Williams dished to former Wildcats standout athlete and legendary coach Bonner, who scored the first unofficial basket.
At the Augusta City Classic Hall of Fame Banquet at Marriott at the Convention Center, Bonner and Williams became the second class of inductees, joining legendary coaches David Dupree and Henry Daggett, who were each honored in 2011.
“This means a lot to me and my family and my former players, guys I played with in high school and college” Williams said. “It means even more knowing that coach Bonner and I will be going in on the heels of two giants, two icons, in Mr. Dupree and Mr. Daggett.”
“Any time you’re a member of an elite group like a hall of fame, it has to be a plus,” Bonner said. “When I first found out about it, I was excited.”
Bonner graduated from Laney in 1962. In his senior season, he starred at safety, recording 13 interceptions on the Wildcats’ first state championship football team. He also starred at point guard for Laney and Hampton University.
Bonner, 68, who’s been married to Brenda for 45 years, was the head coach of the Laney boys basketball team for 39 years. He retired in 2005 after posting a 520-360 record, and he said he “takes it easy” these days.
“I got basketball completely out of my system,” Bonner said. “Once it was out of my system, I was done. I go back from time to time to see a game.”
Williams, 76, starred for the basketball teams at Laney and Paine in the 1950s, later becoming one of just two athletes (former Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver John Stallworth the other) inducted in the inaugural Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 1992.
Williams, who’s been married to Bertha for 45 years, taught at A.R. Johnson and Josey before coaching men’s basketball at Paine (1963-67). In 1970, he went to Augusta State where he served as the dean of students for almost three decades. He returned to Paine as the executive assistant to the president from 1999-2008.