Monty Williams delivers moving address at wife's memorial service

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On Thursday afternoon, Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams did something incredibly hard: getting up in front of an estimated 900 people, including many NBA players, coaches and staff members, and saying goodbye to his wife Ingrid, who died last week at age 44 from injuries suffered in a head-on automobile accident.

Williams spoke during a memorial service held at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City, evincing remarkable strength in a seven-minute address that emphasized the importance of faith — in the belief that "God will take care of this" pain — as he, his two young sons, his three daughters and their family and friends work through their grief and attempt to move on.

The Oklahoman reported last Wednesday that Ingrid Williams was being "treated for life-threatening injuries" after being involved in a collision on South Western Avenue in Oklahoma City. Susannah Donaldson, 52, had been driving south "when her car went left of center and hit a northbound sport utility vehicle head-on," according to the paper. Donaldson and her dog, which was riding in her lap, were dead at the scene.

Police later said that Donaldson's car had been traveling 92 miles per hour one second before the vehicles crashed head-on, and 78 mph at impact; the speed limit in the area where the crash occurred is 40 mph. Three of Williams' children were injured in the accident, but survived. Ingrid Williams later died.

Williams closed his Thursday address by speaking about the importance of forgiving Donaldson and supporting her family, as difficult a task as that might seem:

I want to close with this, and I think it’s the most important thing we need to understand. Everyone is praying for me and my family, which is right, but let us not forget that there were two people in this situation. And that family needs prayer as well, and we have no ill will towards that family.

In my house, we have a sign that says, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." We cannot serve the Lord if we don’t have a heart of forgiveness. That family didn’t wake up wanting to hurt my wife. Life is hard. It is very hard, and that was tough, but we hold no ill will toward the Donaldson family. And we, as a group, brothers united in unity, should be praying for that family, because they grieve as well. So let’s not lose sight of what’s important.

Ingrid Williams' death triggered an outpouring of condolences from around the NBA. That show of support continued Thursday, as Thunder players, coaches and staff members joined players and coaches from the New Orleans Pelicans, whom Williams coached for five years before being fired after last season and joining Oklahoma City as an assistant, and a slew of other NBA personnel with ties to Williams in attendance at the service.

“It just shows what kind of guy Monty is, what kind of person Ingrid is, and the impact they made with different organizations and different coaches' lives,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. “In talking to Monty, the one thing that's really humbled him is the outpouring of support, and the amount of people that have reached out to him and his family.”

That number included San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Spurs stars Tim Duncan and David West, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Clippers star Chris Paul, all of whom traveled to Oklahoma City despite having to be back in Los Angeles for a game on Thursday night. After attending the service, they flew back to California, arriving at Staples Center at around 6 p.m. local time for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Popovich declined to comment on the memorial.

“This isn’t TMZ or some crazy channel,” he said, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “It’s basketball.”

The Williams family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions in Ingrid Williams' memory be made to FaithWorks of the Inner City, according to Monty Williams' agent, Steve Kauffman.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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