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“People say, `Jay, you’re a great guy, you just had a couple of bad nights,’” Williams said. “People that have themselves under control don’t have a couple of bad nights like that. Plain and simple. I could have been better. That’s my goal now, to be better.”

It’s a start for a man rendered unable to get a handle on his life. Williams, who tackled the lighter side of the NBA in “Loose Balls,” reveals how he lost his way, and the lessons learned and scars formed from childhood and prison in his latest book, “Humbled: Letters From Prison.” Williams wrote candid letters, journal entries, even poetry, to pass time in prison, mailed them to a friend who saved them, and turned them into a collection of his works.

In one entry, he reveals a secret _ saying he was sexually abused as a child.

“I don’t like talking about it and I won’t talk about it,” Williams said. “That was the most embarrassing thing to write. The most painful. It was very painful for me to read the book again.”

Even with a wife and children, Williams‘ retirement was filled with pain because of the 2002 fatal shooting of Christofi.

Two years after a freak leg injury suffered with the New Jersey Nets forced him to retire, Williams killed Christofi with a 12-gauge shotgun while showing it to friends, having failed to check the weapon’s safety mechanism before snapping the gun closed.

Williams then wiped down the weapon and placed it in the chauffeur’s hands, stripped off his own clothes, handed them to a friend and jumped into his pool, according to testimony. Williams‘ lawyers maintained that the shooting was an accident and that his actions were driven by panic.

The tragedy will always haunt Williams.

“To be honest, you just think about the damage you caused, from the shooting to the irresponsible way I acted after,” he said. “It’s just so painful, you try not to think of it. I acted that way. I’ve got to take responsibility.”

Williams made a tearful apology to the victim’s family when he was sentenced for the shooting in 2010. He wants to sit across from Andrea Adams, Christofi’s sister, and personally apologize and show his true remorse in person. He says if she’s willing, he’ll meet on her terms. Christofi’s family received a reported $2.75 million settlement from Williams in 2003.

“I have to deal with what happened that night, every night, and the pain of that,” Williams said. “But I don’t have to deal with demons. The demons are anything that takes me from sobriety. Those demons are gone.

“I just had to turn it over to somebody. And the only one I could turn it over to was God.”

He scribbles a bible verse next to his autograph and has eschewed the heavy drinking that was as much a part of his routine as shootarounds and road trips.

“I’ve never been in trouble without alcohol,” he said. “So I took it away. I’m damn sure not going back to jail.”

He’s in an alcohol recovery and treatment program and also visits a psychiatrist.

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