ARNAUDVILLE — The term “brotherhood” is often thrown around a lot when it comes to athletic teams.
From the high school level to the professional ranks, coaches and players often refer to their respective teams as possessing a “brotherhood,” regardless that the majority of these teams do not share a bloodline. In the case of the Beau Chene boys basketball team that term means more than just being part of fraternity, as head coach Lorenso Williams, has not one or two, but three of his brothers that sit beside him on game night.
“To be honest with you, they take a lot of the load off my shoulders,” Lorenso said. “The Beau Chene program wouldn’t be built without these guys.”
The Williams brothers, Alphonso (31), Lorenso (29) and Donovan (23), grew up playing basketball in the backyard of the family’s St. Martin Parish home. Their half-brother Alonzo Walker (26) grew up in neighboring St. Landry Parish.
The competitive spirit was bred into them at an early age, and Lorenso said that was due to the tough love approach oldest brother Alphonso took to those backyard battles.
“I think that is why all of us have a winner’s attitude,” Lorenso said. “He instilled it in us because we got tired of losing — losing to him. When you see us coaching, you still that passion. Playing at home in the backyard with him is where that still comes from.”
Donovan, the youngest brother, gladly agrees with that sentiment.
“Growing up being the youngest, I looked up to those guys,” Donovan said. “They taught me everything they knew. I took what they taught me, and that made me who I am today. I couldn’t ask for any better brothers than that.”
Alfonso went on to star at Cecilia earning all-state honors twice before playing four seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette for coach Robert Lee. Lorenso followed suit as he earned all-state honors twice with the Bulldogs before playing a season at UL-Lafayette as well. Donovan earned all-state honors playing for Marty Lewis at Cecilia before playing four seasons at UL-Lafayette.
Meanwhile, Walker was a four-year letterman and all-district point guard at Beau Chene.
Despite playing in a neighboring parish, Walker says know one would know that they didn’t play for the same school.
“Even though they played at Cecilia and I played over here at Beau Chene, you would never think that we didn’t play and come from the same area,” Alonzo said. “The way we all four react to the game is that we are always on the same page.”
So when asked who was the best player of the four, Lorenso doesn’t hesitate.
“I always thought I was the best,” Lorenso said with a laugh. “Alfonso beat me when I was younger but by the time we got to college age I passed him up. And Donovan has been taught everything we know.”
Donovan agrees, saying Lorenso still dunks today, while oldest brother Alphonso is a little more diplomatic as praises the three other brothers.
Meanwhile, Alonzo has come around to that train of thought.
"Lorenso is the best, and I am fourth,” Alonzo said. “I have no problems saying that. Now if you would have caught me before my accident, then you would have never heard those words come out of my mouth.”
That accident changed all of the brothers’ lives.
On Oct. 24, 2008, Alonzo was involved in a severe car accident. At the time, the former Gators star was working out with recruiters for a few junior colleges in California and was hopeful he too would play college basketball.
But when he awoke from surgery at Tulane, Alonzo discovered that dream would never come true as he would be paralyzed from the waist down.
In addition to the impact the accident had on Alonzo, it also had made an impression on Donovan, even nearly eight years later.
“It has turned my coaching up by 100 percent,” Donovan said. “I tell the kids to imagine waking up one morning and not being able to walk. It’s a tough thing to do, but yet he motivates those kids and he keeps them going. We tell the kids all the time that if he can make it to every practice, then you should be able to.”
The four-brother coaching staff that exists began to take shape once Alonso stepped away from playing in college, to become an assistant at his alma mater. He spent four years as an assistant at Cecilia, all while Donovan was playing, and sat beside his older brother Alfonso, who was also an assistant.
In 2010, Alonso became the head coach at Beau Chene, at the ripe old age of 22-year-old, and he added his older brother Alfonso to his staff, who because of his age was sometimes mistaken as the head coach. That first year the Gators won only nine games, but the program has since flourished under Alonso and his brothers’ leadership. In the past five seasons, Beau Chene has made the playoffs four times, twice reaching the second round.
The fact that his half-brother took over the program he once starred at meant the world to Alonzo.
“The passion they have for the sports; the love that they have for kids is amazing,” Alonzo said. “You know they could have stayed at Cecilia or went somewhere else, but they chose to come here, where I am from that means everything to me. The fact that they show the same love to these kids you have no choice to gravitate to that.”
Alonzo would soon be asked to join the staff, roughly two years after the accident that put him in a wheelchair.
“It was special to me,” Alonzo said. “Those guys know that basketball is life to me, just like it is to them. We all just love the game. Even though now I am unable to physically teach the game, I still have a high basketball IQ and a passion to teach the game. They know that I am still asset.”
After graduating from UL-Lafayette last year, Donovan completed the four-piece set for this season.
“It has inspired me to become a head coach one day, but right now I am just focused on learning the game as a coach,” Donovan said. “These guys are great at what they do, and I am here to learn. A lot people think you can just come off the court and just coach these kids, but that’s not how it works.”
With four ultra-competitive people on staff, each brother has his own responsibility. Lorenso is the head coach, while Alfonso deals with offense and Alonzo and Donovan mainly deal with the junior varsity.
That doesn’t mean that things don’t get heated between the siblings.
“It works out perfect for us,” Alonzo said. “We are not afraid to push one another. We are not afraid to tell each other what we have to tell each other. In the heat of the moment, we may get on each other, but it is for the betterment of the team. We don’t take anything personal.”
“It definitely never stops,” said Alphonso, who routinely battles with Donovan. “At the end of the day, me, Lorenso, Donovan and Zo we try to keep each other on our heels. The simple fact is that by us having a competitive spirit we hope it passes down to our kids.”
Even though that competitive spirit spills over to one-on-one games between the brothers, which Alphonso declines to say who wins, Lorenso said he feels truly blessed to have his three brothers beside him.
“It’s mean the world to have them there next to me,” Alonso said. “Coaching high school basketball is more than what people see on the court.
There is lot stuff behind the scenes and if it wasn’t for my brothers, then I would be here. I may be the head man, but those guys are the undercover brothers that do everything.”