South Loop entrepreneur Heather Williams is used to life on the sidelines, first as the wife of a longtime NBA player and now as the mother of teenage basketball stars.
The Hyde Park native has her shot at fame on the new Lifetime series "Bringing Up Ballers," which follows the drama of five Chicago-area women and their preps standouts. Williams said she was drawn to the concept of showcasing what it takes to raise student athletes in the six-episode series, scheduled to premiere 9 p.m. Wednesday.
"I've spent my entire life behind the bench controlling our empire, our finances. I controlled the agents, I controlled the managers, I managed relationships, and I graduated from working behind the NBA bench to working behind my kids' bench and really managing their success, and trust me, everything I have done has been absolutely strategic," Williams said in a phone interview with the Tribune.
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The 42-year-old fitness studio and salon app owner, who is a cousin of artist Hebru Brantley, said she married Evanston native Aaron Williams at Lake Point Tower in 1999.
Aaron Williams' professional basketball career spanned more than 15 seasons and included stops with the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards, among other teams.
The pair got divorced in 2015 after years of separation. They co-parent three children: Whitney Young Magnet High School students Danyelle and Cameron and 13-year-old Aaron Jr., who attends Frances Xavier Warde School on the Near North Side.
Williams said she had to convince her youngest kids to sign on to the show. On the premiere, some of the teenage cast members seem embarrassed by the mothers' antics.
There's the mom who promises to do whatever it to takes to get her son to the next level, including sleeping with a coach, and the cast members who participate in an eyebrow-raising bikini shoot.
But sprinkled among the arguing and preening is solid basketball played by talented kids with professional dreams.
"I haven't seen the show yet, but what I'm hoping is it's going to be a more positive spin on parenting and friendships. And of course, every friendship has its issues and their drama, but behind everything, you know there's always a silver lining and we're all here to support and help each other, and so I'm hoping that comes across on the show," Williams said.
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