Milwaukee Native Takes Gold at Paralympics

Jake Williams, a UW-Whitewater graduate, competed in the wheelchair basketball event.

The U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball squad captured the gold medal last weekend in the final team competition at the Tokyo Paralympics with a major contribution from Milwaukee native Jake Williams.

In the thrilling win over Japan on the gold-medal game at Ariake Arena, Williams poured in 13 points, topped only by captain Steve Serio, who led the U.S. team with 28 points.

The U.S. got off to a sluggish start in the matchup versus the host nation team, but a three-point shot by Williams at the buzzer tied the game 18-18 after one quarter. The Americans led 32-27 at the half.

Japan took a 46-45 lead after a back-and-forth battle in the third quarter. Key baskets by Williams in the fourth quarter turned the game in the United States’ favor and the team held on for a 64-60 victory.

After the final seconds ticked down, Williams and his U.S. teammates gathered in an emotional embrace at halfcourt to celebrate the hard-fought win.

Photo Courtesy of Olympic Information Services, Bob Martin

Williams, 30, is a 2015 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played basketball. He was a member of the wheelchair basketball team that took home the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Williams also played on the team that won a world championship silver medal in 2018.

Born in Milwaukee, Williams graduated from Greenfield High school in 2009 before continuing his education at UW-Whitewater. At age 16, Williams was struck by a car while riding his bicycle. The accident left him paralyzed.

Williams was one of two Milwaukee area athletes who competed in the Tokyo Paralympics. Wauwatosa native Hailey Danz captured a silver medal in the women’s paratriathlon. The Wauwatosa East High School graduate also won a silver medal in the same event at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. She finished second to U.S. teammate Allysa Seely both times.



Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.