On April 9, 2021, Slick Watts suffered a major stroke. His recovery has been challenging and expensive. As of today, I regret to report that Slick still requires near full-time care to navigate the simple tasks in life.
Slick has extended a helping hand to others his entire life, and he isn’t one to ask for help. Yet he and his family need it, and it’s our turn to extend our hands to them.
Most people recognize Donald Earl “Slick” Watts as a former star for the Seattle SuperSonics. In 1976, he led the NBA in total assists, assists per game, total steals, steals per game, and made the NBA All-Defense First-Team. Yet fewer people know Slick also won the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award that same year. Even when he was playing his best, he was a citizen and friend first.
Slick has always been there for others. Slick played basketball in an era in which paychecks were modest. After his professional basketball career, he became a teacher, first at Dearborn Park Elementary School on Beacon Hill, and later at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School. As a teacher, and in partnership with his son, Donald, Slick has coached and mentored thousands of young people in the Seattle community.
When working with young athletes, Slick often set them up for the “money shot.” He would position athletes within two feet of the basket, and ask them to make as many of those short, simple shots as possible. If they made enough of them in a row, Slick would slip them a twenty dollar bill.
Slick understood how much the short, simple shots matter, in both basketball and life. He coached and mentored young people to appreciate that nothing is automatic or easy unless you work for it. Make the short, simple shot, and do it over and over again.
Due to his stroke, Slick now struggles with the short, simple tasks in life. Since April 2021, his son Donald and grandkids Jadyn and Isaiah, together have served as his caregivers. Jadyn and Isaiah, both seniors in high school, are a huge inspiration and motivation for their grandpa in his recovery. Both are working to earn college basketball scholarships and have adjusted their lives to help their grandpa get back up on his feet, during a critical time for their own futures.
Slick and Donald spent many years building a successful coaching and training business, but since taking on his full-time care Donald has had to shift focus away from the business to ensure his father’s safety and recovery. Shouldering the complete financial, emotional and physical burden of his care and recovery has left little time and resources for Donald and family to sustain their personal lives and the business.
It is time for us to repay the money shot, and to extend our hand to Slick, Donald and their family, the same way they extended their hands to others for decades. Please join me in this campaign to support Slick and Donald, and their family and business, which has meant so much to so many people in our community.