Last week, Deron Williams took his rightful place in the pantheon of University of Illinois Athletics greats at the college’s annual Hall of Fame Gala.

Deron, a member of the 2017 Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame class, was unable to make the trip last year for his induction, which came just days after his first career trip to the NBA Finals ended in defeat. So when he was asked back for the 2018 event, D-Will decided he couldn’t miss the chance to speak alongside numerous other Illini greats.

“Illinois has had a lot of history in their athletics,” he said. “And so for me to be honored—and be a part of this Hall of Fame—means a lot.”


The gala, which took place at Chicago’s Field Museum on Friday night was hosted by ESPN’s Rece Davis. Nearly 500 attendees filled Stanley Hall celebrating the history of Fighting Illini Athletics, and it was a special moment for Deron, especially after he couldn’t make it to last year’s ceremony.

Thirteen of the 14 living members of the 2018 class were in attendance, including Kendall Gill, Charles Carney, Dave Downey, Lou Henson and John “Red” Kerr, all former members of the Illini basketball program.

Since Deron was absent from his own induction in 2017, he did speak on what being a part of this prestigious group means to him.

All in all, it was a great night of celebration for past Illini greats as many shared stories of their time in Champaign.