Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Riley J. Williams III was born on March 16, 1966 in Los Angeles, California. He received his B.S. degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut in 1987, and his M.D. degree from the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California in 1992.
Williams completed his surgical residency and post-graduate fellowship in sports medicine surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City. He was hired as a staff surgeon and specialist at HSS in 1998. Williams held dual appointments at HSS as a full-time member of the sports medicine and shoulder service, and the HSS Research Division as a clinician-scientist. He was also appointed instructor in orthopedic surgery at the Weill Cornell Medical College and became head team physician for the Iona College department of athletics. In 2000, Williams was promoted to assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the Weill Cornell Medical College. Later, in 2005, he was hired as head team physician and orthopedic surgeon of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Brooklyn Nets. That same year, he became the medical director and team orthopedic surgeon for the New York Red Bulls soccer team of Major League Soccer (MLS). In 2012, Williams served as founder and chief medical officer of R2T2 Laboratories, Inc., where he invented the Therma1 fast-recovery and injury prevention handheld roller. In 2014, Williams was named team physician for USA Olympic Men’s Basketball team and was also appointed director of the FIFA Center of Excellence at HSS. Throughout his career, Williams performed surgeries on a number of professional athletes including, Paul George of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, Al Iaquinta of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Tyreke Evans of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, WBC/WBA welterweight boxing champion Keith Thurman, D’Angelo Russell of the Brooklyn Nets, and Dustin Pedroia and Steven Wright of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox. In 2017, Williams was promoted to professor of orthopedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, and attending orthopedic surgeon at HSS.
In 1998, Williams received the Philip D. Wilson Jr. Award for Excellence in Research from the Hospital for Special Surgery, and the Ranawat Award for Excellence in Research from the Eastern Orthopedic Association. In 2003, Williams received the Charles C. Neer Award for Excellence in Research from the American Shoulder and Elbow Society. He also received the Aircast Award for Clinical Medicine from the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine in 2005. Williams was also named to the Castle Connolly Top Doctors in New York Metro Area list, and the Castle Connolly America’s Top Doctors list, since 2007 and 2010, respectively.
Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 29, 2019.