Ravens coach John Harbaugh delivers heartfelt eulogy for Tray Walker
A life was cut tragically short on March 18, as Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tray Walker was killed in a traffic collision while riding his motorcycle.
Over the weekend, Walker's family laid him to rest in a celebration of life in his hometown of Miami. His Ravens teammates and coaches were in attendance to honor Walker and share their fond memories of the 23-year-old, and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh delivered a heartfelt eulogy for Walker.
Take a few minutes to listen to Harbaugh's comments, which we've excerpted below in case you're in a setting where you can't watch video:
“On behalf of all the Ravens that are here, I just want to say first of all, we love Tray Walker. We found out what a good-hearted, hard-working, determined really sweet young man that he was. … A year ago, we had a pre-draft meeting and we brought Tray in. We wanted to get to know him and find out what he’s all about before we drafted him. So he sat down in my office, right across the table, looking me right in the eye. The first thing I noticed was that smile. That big, Tray Walker smile.
And I just said, ‘Tray, what’s the most important thing? What’s your No. 1 motivation?' And he just said, ‘I want to take care of my mama. I love her, and I appreciate everything she’s done for me.’”
Harbaugh went on to tell a story about a rookie obligation Walker had to make a movie talking about his transition to the NFL. At first, Walker wanted no part in the program. But once he got on board, he ended up making a connection with a group of kids:
“It’s not something Tray really wanted to do … and if you know Tray, when Tray makes his mind up about something, he was determined that he was going to get ready for practice the next day. He was going to get his playbook, he was going to get in the cold tub, and he was going to get ready for practice because he was here for football.
Finally, he came to an agreement that he was going to go do the mandatory rookie movie that he had to do down in Baltimore City. Well next thing you know, [one of our coaches] wants to find out what happened. [Another coach] said, ‘It went great. Matter of fact, there were kids down there that, Baltimore City boys, mostly, that had been involved with domestic abuse and things like that in their life. And Tray was their guy. Tray found those boys before, during and after. The bus was full of our rookie players, right, except for Tray. Tray was off the bus, talking to the kids. He connected to those kids.”
For a bit of levity, Harbaugh also noted Walker's tough transition to winter, regaling those in attendance with a story about Walker shoveling his way out of three feet of snow.
Lastly, Harbaugh shared a moment where Walker lined up opposite Steve Smith in practice. The veteran wide receiver managed to make the catch, but Walker handled the rep with aplomb -- which drew praise from his position coach. Walker's response is one of the most levelheaded things we've heard:
“‘Coach, that was no problem.’ He said, ‘Football has always been my escape.’ He said that playing football was like a vacation for him. And when he was on the football field in the National Football League, out here on the Baltimore Ravens practice field, that’s just like being in paradise. Nothing to get upset about.”