Gladness dies suddenly in Arkansas

Former Indiana basketball player William Gladness died at 34 in Fayetteville, Ark., according to a story on the Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s Web site.

The story says that Gladness, a former volunteer basketball coach, was special to many kids in Fayetteville. He died from a bacterial infection made worse because he had his spleen removed after being shot in high school.

Gladness, a 6-8 forward, came to IU as a junior college transfer from Carl Albert State College in Oklahoma. He played for the Hoosiers in 1997-98 and 1998-99. He was a starter most of the time those two years, averaging 8.2 points and 5.3 rebounds.


  1. I am deeply saddened by this news. I met William when he was playing here at IU. My prayers go out to his family and friends.

  2. William was a great player at IU and one of my favorites during his era. Very sad to hear this.

  3. He was way too young….very tragic. William Gladness will be missed.
    I remember Gladness well because he was the only IU basketball player I ever had a class with during my four glorious years in Bloomington. I’ll always remember the first day I saw him walking into History of Rock & Roll at Ballantine Hall. There were at least 100 students in the class but he stuck out because he was so tall or at least seemed really tall compared to my 5’10” frame. I also remember seeing him play as it was my first year with student season tickets. Those were great times.

  4. First and foremost he was a gentleman, but also was a solid big man for two years in which Knight’s teams were less-successful toward the end of his coaching career at IU. RIP William.

  5. William Gladness was my high school sweetheart and he loved the game of basketball ( that was his heart ). He was a very sweet and gentle man. I will forever cherish our last moment together and he will be greatly missed-

  6. my condolences to his family. he was definitely a fine young man who played extremely hard for coach knight. he made a difference while at IU. rest in peace my friend!

  7. Will was one of my best friends at Carl Albert and we kept in touch over the years. I knew him quite well, and don’t hesistate to say that he was one of the greatest men I ever knew. He always thought of others before he thought of himself. Here’s a great article on him:

  8. This news is such a shock to me. I am terribly sad to hear that such a good friend passed at such a young age. Will was an awesome person and loved to see people smile. He loved his family and loved to do whatever he could to make them happy. My prayers go out to his brothers and sisters. May you be in peace my friend…

  9. I need help telling Will story. I was one of his closest freinds although he had many. I just want everyone to know what he did here and how many kids he helped. He was a hero to so many and loved by many more. If anyone can help, contact me at

  10. Thats my boy. He stayed over my parents home and i did the same over his. i was every where with Rob. He never did anything to hurt anybody ever!!! Nor did he get into trouble with the law ever!!! We loved basketball first. Thats the only thing we done wrong. We just stayed around the violence because we couldnt afford to live else where. He was a great child that grew up to be a great man. He didnt have a troubled past. We have lived a hard but wonderful life and i would do it all over again and do anything to spend more time with my best friend. He is a hero and my boy and should be honored. I will always remember what we said everyone needs help but more importantly we need opportunities to change. Bobby Knight if you read this i have questioned your coaching and treatment of my friend several times. He loved you and just told me That he a boy from west memphis ,AR was going to graduate from Indian University wow!! he owes all that to Mr. Knight. So that makes Mr. Knight family. if you see a child in trouble dont just help give but also give him a chance to change. RIP William Robert Gladness. Love you to Joy and Tasha i saw your post.

  11. this is my uncle and my motivation.when ever i felt that i just couldnt make it i would think of how he made it from nothing to somthing.we had many good times together.he is missed very much but never forgotten.G-FUNK #30 RIP UNCLE ROB.LOVE U MAIN

  12. He wuz a very very rare friend that is almost impossible to find these days but i wuz wit him when he got shot with 2 other guys but i remember when he wuz gettin well n i would b comin ova n don’t u know he would b playin n dancin tryin 2 make me laugh n it worked but that is de type of person he wuz always worried about others a truely special person that i will always miss R.I.P (Rob Base)

  13. There isn’t a day go by that “Big Will” isn’t in my thoughts. There isn’t a basketball game that I can watch without picturing Will’s plays, and there isn’t a dancefloor around that I don’t look for his face in the crowd (or head and shoulders above the crowd, lol)… still. I know I miss my friend, and my husband (Tony Ramirez, who played with him at CASC) also. Everyday when I see Coach Murphree we see the sadness in each others eyes because we miss the same friend. What an impact Will has made on us all in his own ways for each of us. We love and miss you “Big Will” I still plan on organizing a basketball camp here at Carl Albert State College in your honor, and in your name just like I promised your sister.

  14. Thank you all for the sharing your memories & words of encoragement with my family & I. We’ve really had some laughs from some of your stories!!! In the end he’s my uncle & now he’s gone & i wanted to say that we will forever in our prayers. We’re extremely happy that my uncle had wonderful people like you all around…THANK YOU-MUCH LOVE


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