New Dallas Mavs forward Grant Williams arrived at a local Dallas ISD elementary school Monday morning just as the sun crested the horizon.

A self-proclaimed “kid at heart,” he had an extra pep in his step, showing up early to shake hands with every child and their parents. He didn’t want to miss anyone.

One student showed him no mercy.

“You dance like it’s 2006,” a student named Grace quipped.

Williams stood there stunned for a second before he busted out laughing.

“Man, I don’t know if Grace is my friend right now; she kind of jokingly bullied me today,” Williams later told

“I asked her, ‘How old do you think I am?’ And she hit me with a good old seasoned 32 years old. That’s a little mature, I told her. I’m 24. Then she told me I had busted knees. I said, ‘Why I gotta be all that?’ But at the end of the day, Grace is my gal. I still told her I was a better dancer than her. It doesn’t matter if I have busted knees or not.”

Williams joined Dallas Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall and the community relations team for a special back-to-school extravaganza that takes place every year at Adelle Turner Elementary School.

The franchise adopted the school in 2021 as part of their Mavs Take ACTION! plan, whose mission is to “address racial inequalities, promote social justice and drive change within North Texas.”

Adelle Turner is a predominately Black Dallas ISD school with many low-income students.

When the Mavs first came on board, the school was rated an F, but after two years of support and programming, “they are now up to a B+,” said Sean Reed with the Mavs.

Monday morning, Williams and Marshall danced, laughed and handed out school supplies to the youngsters. Every child received goodies along with dental kits from Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics.

“Welcome back, welcome back, it’s going to be a great school year,” Williams promised each child, many of them shocked to see an NBA player at their school.

Williams said school is fun. Growing up, he was chatty and had to navigate the complexities of being a kid.

“I was talkative,” he laughed. “Still am.”

The playground was his refuge where, like most kids, he loved to burst through the doors at recess time and play sports with his friends.

Eventually, he became a good enough basketball player that his parents sent him to a private school. Providence Day School in Charlotte had a competitive basketball team, allowing him to gain foundational skills in juggling sports and academics.

“I was always a good student,” Williams said. “I was an honor roll student and tried my best to keep it up there, but my favorite thing about school was P.E. I loved going outside and playing with all my friends. But in the classroom, I tried my best.”

Education was always important in the Williams family, and space exploration was a major topic.

Grant’s mother, Teresa Johnson, is an electrical engineer at NASA who helped design the International Space Station in the 1980s.

She became one of the only women to major in electrical engineering at North Carolina A&T State University before trailblazing a new path in the industry.

Meanwhile, his father, Gilbert, played professional basketball and later worked as a bodyguard for clients like Michael Jackson and Prince in the music industry.

Williams became a nationally-ranked chess player in elementary school and performed in high school musicals.

He’s also an exceptional Spanish speaker and chose Tennessee after considering several Ivy League colleges, including Harvard and Yale.

The forward says he was thrilled to meet with students and teachers in Dallas on Monday morning because they represented his new city.

He even dished out breakfast.

“The people have treated me super well,” Williams said about Dallas.

“I’m just very thankful and happy about the start of the season. The team has been amazing, and the organization and the fans in the city as well.”

While doing classroom visits, Williams told students that he enjoyed anime “probably more than them.”

The 6-foot-6 forward said he always loved school and was a strong student because his parents built a strong foundation in academics, self-discipline and sports.

He graduated from the University of Tennessee in just three years with a degree in supply chain management.

He said his business background helps him in the NBA, and he’s interested in entrepreneurship.

“All the business skills still help me today,” Williams said.

Williams is active in the community in various ways beyond just with the Mavs.

He will spend the next four years as the First Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).

His fellow union members elected Williams earlier this year.

He also has his own charity called The Grant Williams Family Foundation (GWFF), an organization that focuses on education, realizing it has the potential to create better futures for multiple generations.

GWFF levels the playing field for students from underprivileged communities, and he provides mentors, scholarships and programs to give them hope for the future.

Williams reminded the students Monday morning to chase after their dreams and be willing to trail-blaze their own paths.

The message hit home for everyone.

“In one word, I’d describe Grant’s visit as remarkable,” said Reed, who manages the Mavs Take ACTION! program. “Having an NBA player and a CEO of a large franchise visit a school shows the students that they can do anything. It shows them that they can succeed no matter where they come from or what zip code they come from. We care about people, and it’s more than a logo on an event. It’s about an investment in the students, educators and the community.”

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