Tulane's Devon Walker wins Disney Spirit Award for turing tragedy into inspiration.
By JENNIFER HALEFS Southwest
A little more that a year after a freak accident on the field changed his life forever, former Tulane University football player
Devon Walker is receiving this year's Disney Spirit Award for the way he's turned tragedy into inspiration.
Walker has exhibited tremendous courage and perseverance after a severe spinal cord injury left him paralyzed from the neck down last season. He's become a motivational figure for the football team, the university and the New Orleans community.
Disney Sports presents the Spirit Award annually to college football's most inspirational figure.
"Winning the Disney Spirit Award gives me a renewed sense of purpose to continue on my path toward recovery and, in doing so, provide inspiration to others to never give up,'' Walker said. "I have a fantastic support system in my family, friends, teammates, coaches, university staff, and others from around the country who constantly encourage me to keep fighting. Returning to campus and my team this fall has allowed me to regain a sense of normalcy and has given me hope for a full and successful life."
In the second game of the season last year against Tulsa, Walker collided with a teammate while attempting to make a tackle just seconds before halftime. Walker injured his C3 and C4 vertebrae, which left him paralyzed from the neck down. He spent several months in the hospital before returning home in December 2012.
A year later, the 22-year-old senior is back in the classroom, working to finish his degree in cell and molecular biology. Walker is also on the sidelines every week, as an ever-present supporter of his Green Wave teammates, a testament to his determination and resilience. He acts as a mentor and motivator, delivering the Pre-game speech every week.