DJ Walker, a star basketball player at St. Genevieve’s High School in Los Angeles, was recently featured in a national photo essay in USA Today which focused on the question of whether college athletes should be able to form a union and seek payment. For Walker, it was an honor and a chance to appear before a national audience. “I was very excited when I first heard I would appear in USA Today,” said Walker. “It was quite an honor!”
Determination, hard work, leadership and talent are just a few of the words being used to describe DJ Walker. As a senior at St. Genevieve’s High School, Walker is leading the school’s varsity basketball team to great success. Walker’s success on the court didn’t come easy for him, who came late to the game of basketball and had a lot of catching up to do in order to compete at a high level.
Walker is getting attention on the court for his basketball skills, but those who know him are recognizing his potential to be a leader and role model on a larger stage. Walker is quick to tell anyone who will listen that he grew up with few role models and even less resources. Rather than wallow in self-pity or become turned off by life, Walker directed his energy to overcoming the odds and making a difference. He describes it this way, “I didn’t have the resources and experiences that other kids had, but rather than get angry, I decided to get stronger and do everything I can to develop into an elite player.”
Right now, Walker is making that difference on the basketball court and is displaying the qualities that are getting noticed. Basketball is more than a game for Walker; it is an outlet to display the kind of person he is, and it is a stepping stone to greater things. DJ’s coach, Sean Collyer, describes Walker as the ultimate team player and the first to cheer others on and encourage them to succeed. Coach Collyer marvels at his work ethic which involves early morning training, dedication to academics, focusing on training and still finding time to volunteer in his community.
Walker is currently averaging 19.8 points and four assists during play, and his senior season hasn’t even started. Walker’s motto is “never give up,” and he has his eyes set on college. His season starts in January, and colleges are already seeking him out. “I want to be the first to do something that I love,” Walker says. “My family members aren’t doing what they love. They’re just doing things that they have to do to make ends meet. I want to do something that I love.”
The question of whether college athletes should be paid will be decided far from the court at St. Genevieve’s, but there seems to be little doubt that DJ Walker will be one of the scholarship athletes that the decision will impact when the time comes.
To learn more about DJ Walker, contact Sean Collyer at St. Genevieve’s High School at 818.894.6417.