EXCLUSIVE: Jayson Williams appears to be a changed man: serious, sober and determined to make meaning out of his past mistakes. He told me he thinks about the gun accident everyday and he feels responsible for the severe stress his father suffered.
"I lost my way for a long time, it was a terrible season for me for 10 years," he said. "I caused so much pain. But the thing is, not one person died, not just Mr. Christofi, but so did my dad, I accidentally killed two people that night."
We met Jayson Williams at the Bedford Academy High School in Brooklyn where he was fulfilling a promise to speak to the college bound students who have to maneuver through the tough streets.
Afterwards, he sat down with me for an exclusive one on one interview -- his first since he was released from Rikers Island nearly 2 weeks ago. He told me he's a changed man.
Williams was the local high school basketball star who made good, raking in an $86 million contract at the height of his NBA fame. The New Jersey nets star then went on to become a popular sports broadcaster.
But it all crashing down on Valentine's Day 2002 when a gun he was recklessly handling discharged, killing his chauffeur, Costas Christofi.
Williams believes the incident and trial also took such a toll on his dad that he died soon after. He says he wakes up every morning thinking about it, and wants to ask Mr. Christofi's sister for forgiveness.
"Yes, I would love to meet with her, Ms. Christofi," he said. "I wanted to meet with her before the trial even started, I wanted to go to Mr. Christofi's funeral, but my lawyers said 'Jay, don't go here, because they're still upset.'"
Williams told me he wants the Christofi family to know he is full of remorse and takes full responsibility.
Williams said that on Rikers Island he finally had time to reflect and face his demons.
"Alcohol is the cause of all my problems," he said. "That's an Achilles heel for me."
He said he also found god, and even led a bible study group for the other inmates.
"For me, by the grace of god was the only thing, Lisa, that let me survive," he said.
Williams was showing off his gun collection the night Christofi was killed inside the NBA star's New Jersey mansion.
The former gun collector now says he will never touch a firearm again.
Williams is trying to turn the corner on his troubled past and use it to give inner city youth a more positive future. He is warning them that he's living proof that in one split second, a bad decision can take you from the playoffs to prison.
Williams told me he is a recovering alcoholic and that he's been sober for 837 days. He said he's taking it one day at a time, but plans to go wherever he is asked to help inspire young people to keep their dreams from becoming a nightmare.