Williams tries to put fatal shooting behind

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WEEHAWKEN, N.J. (AP) - Jayson Williams wants to walk. After 26 months behind bars, Williams never squanders an opportunity to stretch the legs that once helped make him one of the NBA’s most ruthless rebounders. Besides, he doesn’t have a driver’s license.

Dressed in a New Jersey Nets T-shirt and Chicago Bulls practice shorts, the 6-foot-10 Williams looms larger than the Empire State Building behind him in the distance. He takes only a few steps out from a hotel around Lincoln Harbor when a pair of 11-year-old girls wants to know if he played in the NBA.

He sure did. Was an All-Star, too.

“You’re lying,” one of the girls teases from her bike.

“Naw, I’m telling the truth,” a laughing Williams said.

“Swear.”

“I can’t swear. But I’ll tell you, it’s the truth. It’s a sin to swear.”

Before asking for an autograph, the girl tells Williams she’ll look him up online. He encourages the search. “No. 55,” he throws in for good measure.

What they’ll find of his name in a search engine is more than his successes and stats over an injury-shortened nine-year career. They’ll also discover a cascade of stories detailing legal troubles that stretched more than a decade once his career dried up. They’ll find Williams served eight months for drunken driving in New York and 18 months before that in New Jersey on charges stemming from a limo driver’s shooting death.

Google away.

“There’s nothing I can do about that,” Williams said.

Williams says all he can do today, and for the rest of his life, is apologize for his wrongs and crimes and start to move ahead, grateful for a second chance, with God on his side.

He quit drinking _ 893 days sober and counting _ discarded the guns, downsized the house, and returned to civilian life with a renewed focus and vigor for community work.

He walked more than a mile to his barber for a cut Tuesday because he was due later that night at an Upper Montclair Country Club fundraiser for HIV shelters. On Father’s Day, he took a group of homeless men to the same barbershop, after arranging for breakfast at a local shelter, to clean them up and restore a chunk of their dignity.

In his first extended interview since he was freed from jail in April, the 44-year-old Williams stressed over and over that he’s sorry, and vowed to live life without the toxic tag team of booze and bravado that fueled his reckless behavior and led to the shotgun death in his New Jersey mansion of chauffeur Costas Christofi and the night he drove his SUV into a tree in lower Manhattan.

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