Saints sign paralyzed Tulane safety Devon Walker on his graduation day

Walker at the New Orleans Saints' rookie minicamp on Saturday.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Devon Walker’s journey to the NFL has not been a conventional one.

In September 2012, the Tulane safety suffered a spinal cord injury after he collided with a teammate during his university’s game against Tulsa, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

After months of hospitalization and extensive rehabilitation, Walker returned to Tulane in the fall of 2013 to rejoin his team on the sidelines and finish out his senior year. His ardent support served as motivation and inspiration to both his Green Wave teammates and the community as a whole, and Walker was given the 2013 Disney Spirit Award as college football’s most inspirational figure last November.  

On Saturday, Walker graduated from Tulane with a degree in cell and molecular biology. And on that same day, at New Orleans Saints rookie minicamp, the team announced the signing of the former safety to a one-day contract.

"When Devon got hurt, his football career was just starting to take off after three years of hard work," Saints coach Sean Payton said on the Saints’ website. "Despite the devastating injury he suffered, Devon refuses to let that define him. He is an outstanding young man, who is not only an inspiration to his coaches and teammates at Tulane, but to all of us. Devon’s character, determination, intelligence and work ethic are everything that we look for in a New Orleans Saint when we sign a player. This is the least we can do to recognize Devon and these attributes that we want all of our players to have."

Walker’s Tulane coach Curtis Johnson also expressed his congratulations. 

"This is a first-class move by a first-class organization." Johnson said. "The Saints have been very supportive of Devon and … I believe it once again demonstrates the organization’s commitment to the New Orleans community and to one of its own."

You can watch the video of Payton announcing the signing and hear what Walker had to say about it below.

(h/t: Tulane University for posting the video on YouTube)