Devon Walker embodies the best of all things that both city life and country life have to offer. It was in the country setting of Destrehan, a small enclave just a few miles outside of New Orleans, that young Devon Walker ran and played freely in the open fields that rural communities generously provide its children and it was in there that young, energetic Devon was first introduced to team sports. The parish-sponsored programs of football, baseball, and basketball supplied the space and opportunity for an active boy to grow and achieve. The city, though, was never really very far away, and with time, Devon the young man would find a place for himself there.
As a youth in Destrehan, Devon played various sports, but it was football that beckoned him. A youthful Devon grew into a sturdy young man and became a standout high school football player at Destrehan High School, and then, as fate would have it, the city called for Devon and he answered. Tulane University, a storied and hallowed place, didn’t have to do much to get Devon interested, it just had to be a great school in a great city; that it was, and some. In 2009, Devon enrolled at Tulane as a Cell & Molecular Biology student and walked on to the Green Wave football team. For the first two years, Devon showcased his hard work, dedication, and discipline, along the way earning a full scholarship, a new role on Tulane’s defense as the starting safety and, if all of that weren’t enough, he was named a team captain in 2012. More importantly to Devon, though, he earned the respect and admiration of both his teammates and coaching staff.
To even the most casual observer, Devon’s senior year at Tulane was shaping up to be a promising one. However, fate was not done with him just yet. On September 8, 2012, during a regular season game vs. the University of Tulsa, Devon’s football career ended abruptly. In a most unpredictable turn of events, Devon collided with a teammate while attempting to make a tackle just seconds before halftime, causing him to injure his C3 and C4 vertebrae, paralyzing him from the neck down. He would spend several months in hospitals in Oklahoma and Atlanta before returning home to his beloved New Orleans in December of 2012. Never one to let misfortune derail him, Devon worked hard in rehabilitation, earning the admiration of caregivers at every level. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Devon returned to his beloved Tulane to complete his undergraduate degree.
On December 12, 2013, Devon received the Disney Spirit Award, an honor given annually by Disney Sports to college football’s most inspirational figures. The award was earned by Devon after he exhibited tremendous courage and perseverance following his spinal cord injury. Devon also became a motivational figure for the Tulane football team, the university, and the New Orleans community as a whole. Devon’s speeches before each game during the 2013 season ignited the Tulane football team and earned them a trip to their first bowl game in over a decade. The Green Wave played in the New Orleans Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome vs. the ULL Ragin’ Cajuns that year. Following the season, Devon made his way across the stage in the very same Superdome in front of thousands of cheering fans and supporters, receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Cell & Molecular Biology. The very same day of graduation, Devon was signed to a one-day NFL contract as an honorary member of the New Orleans Saints. Shortly after, on Friday, May 23, 2014, Devon was profiled in a special on Good Morning America for his valiant efforts.
Devon is now in pursuit of his Master’s degree in Neuroscience and he continues to inspire many others, not just at Tulane or in New Orleans, but all over the world to never give up. Devon’s resilience and uplifting spirit through trying circumstances are the reasons he has become the hero and the icon he is today. The city boy who never really left the country lives the life he preaches. He is the very embodiment of what it means TO NEVER GIVE UP!