Willie Dotson III

Funeral service for Willie Dotson III, 48, Lawrence will be held 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at Morning Star Church 998 N 1771 Road in Lawrence. Burial will follow in Oak Hill Cemetery.

He was born on October 7, 1972 in Lawrence, KS the son of Willie Dotson, Jr. and Gloria Jean Brown.

Willie was a Referee, Coach, former Para educator and Founder of Primetime Ballerz Basketball.

He married Nicole Renee Attebery on May 11, 2012 in Lawrence. She survives of the home.

Other survivors include his mother, Gloria (Delmar) Jackson, his children, Angela Rayton, Traci (Heaven) Dotson, DeShane Rayton, and Willie Dotson, IV; Siblings, Traci Brown, Gail Sweets, Shane White, Raquel Thomas; Mother-in-law, Cathy Reyes; his grandchildren, Myles Dotson, Amori Dotson, Amiah Morgan; numerous brothers and sister-in-laws and a host of relatives. He was preceded in death by his father, Willie Dotson, Jr.; his daughter, Courtney Dotson; and father-in-law, Tiburcio Joe Reyes.

The family will greet friends from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Monday, April 5th at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.

With boundless love and sheer determination, Willie Dotson III – “Big Willie” or simply “Coach” to many people who knew him – touched hearts and changed lives. Willie died unexpectedly on Saturday, March 27, and his family now needs the kind of love and support he (and they) so tirelessly gave.

Many people entered Willie’s world though basketball, a sport that he loved and studied. But while many coaches end their mentoring when the season is over, Willie became a friend and father figure whose love and leadership was without a season. Willie coached hundreds of students in multiple sports, but his passion was most clearly expressed when he was coaching his very own Primetime Ballerz basketball team. Other coaches cut players, but Willie simply added more teams to make room for the dozens of boys and girls who wanted to play for him. No matter the cost, Willie gave each and every child an opportunity to be the best player and person they could be. Primetime Ballerz became a force not only in Lawrence, but throughout the region. And by the time Willie’s players were seniors, they reached their goal of playing nationally at the highest level. Through nothing but hard work and love, Willie made it happen.

Basketball, however, was never the ultimate goal. Willie used basketball as a tool to teach – to lift up kids who might otherwise feel left behind and to push all of his players to achieve off the court as well. Willie became a mentor to many and was a tireless supporter of each and every one of his boys. Upon graduation in 2020, many of his players earned scholarships and spots on college basketball teams. But Willie was most proud of the fact that after years of joy and sweat and tears and laughter, every single Primetime Ballerz player was heading off to college. In the end, Willie achieved his ultimate goal: to see his boys succeed.

Off the court and away from the kids, Willie was a force of nature who drew people into his orbit. Nothing was handed to him, but he refused to give up. That determination earned the respect of those around him. He spoke with the kind of honesty that comes from someone who doesn’t waste time on superficiality. He learned from his experiences and wanted the best for everyone around him. Willie wore his heart on his sleeve and never shied away from telling you exactly how he felt. (Sometimes he would tell you how he felt for several hours with hardly a breath.) Willie didn’t like to ask for help, but if someone else was in need you could be sure Willie, Nicole, and their family would be there ready to support in any and every way.

Memorial contributions may be made in Willie’s name to Warren-McElwain Mortuary to help with funeral expenses or to the Willie Dotson III Memorial Fund, payable to Nicole Dotson, for his grandchildren’s education and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain, 120 W. 13th street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

The service will be available at https://youtu.be/3iuyWdwcxow


12 Condolences

  1. Tiffany Donohoe on March 31, 2021 at 12:19 am

    Willie was one of a kind and an inspiration to so many. He helped coach one of my sons and was a wonderful example of integrity and hard work. Willie will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. Much love to Nicole and his children. Our prayers go out for you.

  2. Sherri Scott NUNEZ on March 31, 2021 at 6:24 am

    My Brother my heart is so heavy. But knowing that you’re with our Lord and Savior gives me great pleasure. Now while you’re in your new house take the skills you have and continue your dreams with the babies were you are at. You’re name will never be forgotten. Job well yare good and.faithful servent. Now take your walk down the golden streets and meet Jesus ????. I love you bunches brother until we meet again.

  3. Kimberly Mumford on March 31, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Nicole And Family,
    We are so saddened to hear about Willie. Please try and find comfort in all the beautiful memories you share. You and the family will be lifted in prayer. Love you Nicole!
    Kimberly Mumford
    Will Mumford

  4. Monica Stark on March 31, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    My heart breaks for you all. I’m still in a state of disbelief. Nonetheless, Willie always just found a way to crack me up. One of my favorite memories is from when we were dropping off boys to school at LHS. We were passing each other going in opposite directions, but paused long enough to say hi and chat for a minute. I was a little embarrassed because I was still in my hooded bathrobe and headscarf finishing up my morning school run, so I said something like, “Forgive my morning mom look, brother!” Willie was so sweet and replied in his classic “only Willie” voice, “Girl, you know I’m surrounded by women. Been surrounded by mostly women all my life. Seeing mommas dropping kids off for school in curlers and robes is nothing new to me!” We both just laughed and laughed and laughed. Like I said, he always found a way to make folks laugh or experience joy!

    Peace be with you, Funny Man! We will miss you forever and always, but know that you’ll be heavenly coaching your beautiful wife, son, daughters, granddaughter, and PTB Fam for all eternity. Thanks for the memories, bro!

  5. Deb Drummet on April 1, 2021 at 9:40 am

    I did not know Willie, but I have never read such an inspirational obit!! What an amazing individual. He will live on in all who knew him. RIP, peace and hugs to his family and legion of extended family.

  6. Stacey Smiley on April 1, 2021 at 10:50 am


    I am so heartbroken for you and the family. Willie was a special person, that definitely cared for the children. I know he was the love of your life, and a good family man. I am definitely praying for you all!! Please reach out to me if you need me, I got you!!!!

  7. Charlene Haines on April 5, 2021 at 10:08 am

    So sorry to hear of your loss.

  8. Bryttani Winn on April 6, 2021 at 10:11 am

    I am so sorry the family of this amazing man has to endure the pain behind losing him. Taken too soon but never will be forgotten. Prayers to all of you. ????????

  9. Lisa Kreie on April 6, 2021 at 10:53 am

    Nicole, you were all such great neighbors. Enjoyed having you all around to wave across to most mornings and afternoons. I am so sorry for your pain and lose of your magnificent partner in life. My prayers that you hold God close as his hands wrap around your heart and shoulders, to help in your grief. Prayers to you and all of your family!

  10. The Branson’s. on April 6, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    Nicole, we are terribly sad about your and your family’s loss. We send you our warmest thoughts.

  11. Shannon Channel on April 7, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Nicole an family . I’m so sorry to hear about Willie. My thoughts an prayers are with you all.

  12. Kirk Kirkland on July 27, 2022 at 12:15 am

    I went to school with Willie at South Junior High as well as Lawrence High, and even worked with him at Fur’s Cafeteria years ago. He was always a kind and funny guy who immediately made you feel like a friend. God bless him and his family at this time.

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