Soft-spoken Jaylene had a message for Williams that was as sincere as it was short: "Thank you."
C.J. was a big fan before and an even bigger fan after meeting D-Will. The youngster's envious friends told him he was "lucky," and he thought the once-in-a-lifetime experience was "cool."
The 20 families each had their chance to personally chat with Williams, who also posed for photos with them.
"It's awesome," Nicole Terrazas of Ogden said, "because I've been a Utah Jazz fan for a really long time."
Her son, 7-year-old Mikey, watches Utah Jazz games but was shyly left speechless.
"We're out of words for it," his mom said. "He's a good person for helping people like this."
This Santa had plenty of helpers in organizing the event as well as shopping and wrapping gifts.
"You don't want me to wrap presents," Williams joked. "It's not a pretty thing."
Williams gave some input — he checked the list twice and all of that Kris Kringle stuff — but his elves took care of most of the work as he led the Jazz to a 15-6 record. That group included Amy and friends Matt Mitnick, Ashley Kelson, Jeff Smith, Judy Ward, and Ryan and Jill Coil. They've been working on the project for a month, and literally wrapped things up — everything from clothes to an electric guitar — for five hours Saturday in a warehouse owned by Kyle Korver's foundation.
Amy said she gets a bigger kick out of doing this every year than being Mrs. Santa for the Williams' three children.
"For my kids, you're doing something really sweet and they're kids and they have this great feeling about Christmas," she explained. "But when it's other people's children, I think you feel a lot more fulfilled from doing this kind of stuff. It doesn't seem like a hassle to wrap gifts like it is if you're doing it for your own family. I love it. I think this is one of the best things that we can do."
If Williams could wrap up one piece of advice as a present to children with single moms, it'd simply be this: "I just tell them to hang in there."
Added the Jazz captain: "Their moms are doing the best they can. As a kid, you don't really understand what they're sacrificing and how hard they work."
Now that he's an adult and a father of three, Williams recognizes and appreciates more than ever what his own mother went through for their family.
"My mom had two jobs and would work hard, and I'd have to take care of my little brother a lot of the time because she was always gone," Williams said. "But she wasn't gone because she didn't love us. She was gone because she wanted to provide for us the best she possibly could, and she did a great job of that."
His childhood experience — knowing how demanding it was on his mom and how difficult it was on the family not to have a dad around — makes Williams want to be there even more for his children.
"That's the biggest reason I always want to be a big part of my kids' lives is because I didn't have that father figure growing up," said Williams, who recently reconnected with his dad. "I can relate to these kids and understand what they're going through. It's tough to grow up without a dad to kick you in the butt and correct you.
"It's hard on a mom to be both parents," he added. "But (my mom) did the best job possible."
It was obvious to 60 grateful people on a dreary-turned-cheery Sunday that she taught Williams something right.
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