Meet Ron Watts

Meet Ron Watts

Former NBA champ shoots for recovery at the Hebrew Home

Ronny WattsAt 6 foot 6 inches, 210 pounds, Washington-born Ronnie Watts smiles in his room at the Hebrew Home as he looks back on his days as a basketball phenom. Coming of age on the court, where he mastered dribbling maneuvers, catching rebounds and scoring for fun at the DC Jewish Community Center summer camps, Watts' true abilities came to the fore on the Wilson High School’s basketball team. Red Auerbach, then head coach of the World Champion Boston Celtics saw him play, and sensing promise, helped him secure a full academic-athletic scholarship to Wake Forest University where the lanky forward was twice named All-ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) in the early ‘60s. 

Watts went on to become a second-round pick for the Celtics, playing from 1965 to 1967, a period that included one championship season, with Auerbach and then Bill Russell as his coaches. Sports Illustrated later ranked the team as “the #1 Dynasty” in sports history. 

Leaving the Celtics, Watts became a motivational speaker and then national spokesperson for AT&T, leading marketing seminars for the AT&T WATS Line. He partnered with famed Celtics co-player, coach and good friend Bill Russell to produce five national TV commercials for the company’s “Good Friends are for Keeps” campaign. One of them, “Ron Watts and Bill Russell Adlib AT&T Commercial,” garnered a Clio award for Best TV Commercial of the Year. Enjoy watching it on YouTube. 

Watts has had other impressive accomplishments, and readers might be interested to discover that he captained the gold medal-winning U.S. Basketball Team at the1965 Israeli Maccabiah Games, ran a popular basketball camp at the JCC of Greater Washington and was later inducted into the International Jewish Basketball Hall of Fame. He also served as TV announcer for the NBA Washington Bullets Basketball in the first World Championship season as well as Georgetown Basketball and Maryland Basketball. But professional achievements aside, Watts takes greatest pride in his sons, Trent, owner of a media production company, and Russell, a senior executive with a New York IT marketing firm. 

Before retiring, Watts was president and CEO of Ronald M. Watts & Associates for over 25 years; the company negotiated over $200 million in real estate transactions in Northern Virginia. 

Today, Watts undergoes rehabilitation in The Elsie and Marvin Dekelboum Therapy Center. Years of physical wear on his joints and multiple surgeries have resulted in a body loaded with skeletal screws and residual pain. Nevertheless, he heeds the words of Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never, never give up.” Watts is determined to enjoy life, and we’re striving to help him reach that goal.


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