Robert Lee Williams

. Robert Williams

Robert Lee Williams, “Bob” age 89, born May 12, 1931, in Pensacola, Florida, passed away at home in Rosemount, Minnesota on January 19, 2021.

Bob was most notably known as the first Black to play for the Minneapolis Lakers and one of just seven Black players in the NBA. He spent his offseason from the Lakers traveling worldwide with the Harlem Globetrotters and with his long time friend and fellow legend, the late Meadowlark Lemon.

Bob and his wife of 69 years, Marietta, had the distinct pleasure of meeting Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers in Minneapolis during Kobe’s farewell game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017.

Bob co-founded the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the state of MN and was inducted into their Hall of Faith for his many years of volunteer lead activities in MN. He was also honored at the Faith World Church in Orlando, Florida during Black History month for his many accomplishments on and off the basketball court.

. Robert Williams in action

Bob was a former member of the Hospitality House for Intercity Boys and Girls Clubs and served as their Chairman for 15 years. He also served as a deacon for 20 years, most recently at Progressive Baptist Church, St. Paul where he was one of the founding members. A special thank you to Ft. Snelling National Cemetery staff for going the extra mile.

As a result of Bob’s passion for working with youth, in lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made at search for (“find a cause to support”) to the following organizations:

Progressive Baptist Church (Boys and Girls Youth Center) or Hospitality House Minneapolis Youth Development. A live-stream of the service can be viewed at:


Progressive Baptist Church, 1505 Burns Ave., St. Paul, MN 55106 on Thurs., Feb. 4 from 9 -10 am. *A private service to follow reviewal at 10:00 am.

Cards may be sent to Estes Funeral Chapel, 2201 Plymouth Avenue N., Minneapolis, MN 55411